Children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) will have had some extra support or been working in a slightly different way at school, so it’s helpful to speak to your child’s teacher or the school’s SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) about what worked best for them when learning in school. If you do not already have it, their individual learning profile/ plan may help you understand the skills they were working on. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child to complete a full day of learning, as this is not realistic or possible for most families. This could be a great opportunity to work on specific skills, or learning linked to their interests.
General Guidance to Support Learning
Work in short bursts – three separate 5 minute activities with a short break in between might work much better than one longer 15 minute activity.
Build in breaks and lots of praise and rewards, this will make it fun for both of you. Try to use little rewards (e.g. stickers, smiley faces, high fives) that can be traded in for a ‘bigger’ reward at the end of the day or week (such as time playing a favourite game, or completing a chosen activity with you).
Try to set up a routine of work then play and keep general routines consistent. Routine is helpful for children, so try to keep bedtimes, mealtimes the same and add in some structure to the day. It may help to create a visual timetable. See this template for an example: https://search3.openobjects.com/mediamanager/hackney/fsd/files/daily_planner_to_support_structure_at_home.pdf .
Having a work then play system might include one, two or three learning activities before play, depending on your child’s ability and age. Don’t worry if things don’t always go to plan – leave it and come back to it later - tomorrow is another day!
Try to have some variety to the activities, but repetition is a great way to learn, so don’t worry about working on the same skills or activities a number of times; especially if your child enjoys them. This can help them remember.
Encourage learning through play and follow your child’s interests– children learn best when they are happy, relaxed and engaged. Practical activities may work much better than worksheets for your child (e.g. playing counting games, letter hunts, drawing around shapes, baking, writing a shopping list, working out how much money is needed for the shopping, etc.). Multisensory approaches are often helpful for children with learning needs – this means learning through seeing, hearing and doing. Remember children in school are not following the curriculum, so try not to feel under pressure to replicate a school day.
If the work you are being provided with feels too hard for your child, speak to your child’s teacher or their school SENCO; they should be able to provide you with different/ adapted activities.
Twinkl has online resources developed specifically for children with Special Educational Needs and is currently free to access for parents. Ask your child’s teacher what level to look at if you don’t already know (e.g. they may be working at an earlier key stage than their year group) https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/specialeducationalneeds-sen
Look after your own wellbeing. The following link is to a community chat room where people who have or support someone with learning difficulties can ask questions, discuss issues and share ideas and resources: https://healthunlocked.com/mencap
Children and young people with SEND may feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such
as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. They may need extra words of reassurance, more
explanations or adapted explanations about the event, and more comfort and other positive
physical contact from loved ones.
Where possible, it can be helpful to explain any upcoming changes to routine and
circumstances before they happen and help them to plan and come up with solutions, such
as finding a hobby or doing exercises to relax and cope with anxiety.
It may help to support your child to create their own toolbox of strategies that they can use
if they are feeling upset, worried, confused or angry.
Toolkit. Coronavirus strategies.docx
For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice.
The Special Needs Jungle has produced an article about staying calm and supporting children’s concerns about coronavirus: https://www.specialneedsjungle.com/calmingcoronavirus-
There are also a number of easy to read resources and social stories explaining coronavirus for children and young people, such as:
Social story for younger and primary aged children: https://littlepuddins.ie/coronavirus-socialstory/
Easy read guide for older children/ young people:
For further guidance on coronavirus (COVID19) for those with learning difficulties please see
the Mencap website (includes easy read materials).
The Special Needs Jungle website has advice and guidance to support parents of children
with SEND at home (e.g. starting gently, ways to address the challenges of learning at
The website also includes links to lots of visual resources, social stories, and multi-sensory
learning and wellbeing resources: https://www.specialneedsjungle.com/distance-educationresources-
The Sensory Projects website includes lots of links to educational activities at home,
including those specifically for children and young people with additional educational needs
and those specific to learning about COVID 19 and the changes to our lives: http://www.thesensoryprojects.co.uk/covid19-resources?fbclid=IwAR38l-FHc0oJ9hqmbop6OQz_ziSYlaJwecxWqAgH9q-1QYsWFCmdKlv1NLg
Inclusive Teach A to Z of sensory learning activities: https://inclusiveteach.com/2019/05/13/the-a-z-of-sensory-learning-activities/
Education Otherwise Includes lots of ideas and links to support practical learning at home: https://www.educationotherwise.org/index.php/links/37-activities-teaching-and-learning
Story massage have put together a free resource booklet of 36 stories, email them to be sent a copy: email@example.com
GOV. UK - Government guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus, which includes further advice and links: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#helping-children-and-young-people-cope-with-stress
BEREAVEMENT DURING COVID 19 AND BEYOND – SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES
The Current Situation
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting on all our educational settings, families, communities and way of life. This is coupled with a collective raised level of anxiety due to uncertainty around the coronavirus crisis and the additional complication of the nationwide closure of schools and other educational settings. There is also an increased risk of unexpected bereavement and feelings of loss in the community.
Our daily lives have changed dramatically. Whilst huge efforts are being made to stay in regular contact with children, communities are likely to feel less connected whilst educational settings are closed or operating under restrictions. The effects of social distancing, isolating vulnerable individuals and disruption to our day-to-day routines will require a different approach to how settings support their communities.
General Bereavement Guidance
Key points to support best practice following a bereavement:
• Remember that help and support for those impacted are best provided by a trusted, familiar adult.
• Be as honest and open as you can with children, appropriate to their developmental level.
• Remember that children are all different and they will all react to the loss, trauma and bereavement in their own unique way. The differences in their levels of awareness, understanding, age, emotional maturity, security and not least, their relationship with the deceased, will also have significant effects. For further information on children’s developmental understanding of death
• When someone dies, use the words dead or died, not euphemisms like "passed away".
• Be guided by the family in terms of information they are happy to share and ensure these wishes are updated as things go along.
• Think about how the family can support children to share memories, perhaps through the creation of a memory box the setting can support the family to do this.
Things to consider following a bereavement during Covid-19
• Bereavements linked to Covid-19 are likely to be less expected and the family will have had little time to prepare.
• Family members of the person who has died may have particularly strong emotions around feelings of guilt as well as feelings of loss.
• They may have been socially isolated from the person who has died, and not had recent or usual levels of contact.
• The person may have died in hospital and the family may not have been able to say goodbye.
• There may have been restrictions on the funeral and so the bereaved may have had this healing ritual denied to them.
• There may also be other members of the family who have become ill and there may be fears about their health.
• The people and routines that usually support people following a bereavement e.g. friends and the routine of school or other educational setting may not be accessible whilst social distancing measures are in place.
• The bereaved may feel anger and blame, e.g. towards others who may not have self-isolated quickly.
• It may be difficult to avoid reminders such as the news.
• If there are many deaths linked to Covid-19, the bereaved may struggle with the lack of specialness that their loved one receives.
• It will be important to consider many of the points above in relation to any bereavement at this time.
• It is also important to be aware that staff themselves may have bereavement and loss of their own to process. This means that a team approach will be required. The guidance in this document should also be considered and applied when responding to staff bereavements.
• The key focus with families is to listen to their worries, exploring the impact on the various members of their family. Relatively small-sounding issues may be overwhelming. They might be wondering; Should they be doing anything differently now to protect other members of the family? Are any family members feeling in any way responsible? Are they dwelling on what they might have done differently, for example to protect the person who has died from infection?
Resources Helpline telephone numbers:
(08088 020 021)
Child Bereavement UK
(0800 02 888 40)
Websites with information and guidance for schools and families to support bereaved children:
Coronavirus: information and guidance for supporting bereaved children and young people.
Information and scripts to use if someone the child knows has died from Covid-19.
Saying goodbye when children cannot attend the funeral.
Support for bereaved children and their families. Includes downloadable documents at the bottom of the webpage on the following:
- Children’s cncepts of death by age
- Supporting a Grieving Child in the Classroom
- Informing the School Community of a Death
- Download grieftalk Posters
- Preparing Students for the Return of Grieving Classmate
Child Bereavement UK
Downloadable information sheet with tips for supporting bereaved children through difficult times.
Child Bereavement UK also have a drop-in facility for families and professionals in the Salford Royal Hospital on the fourth Thursday of each month. However, these have been suspended and online support is instead available. https://directory.childbereavementuk.org/?keyword=Salford&organisation_name=&category_term=all&postcode=&radius=5
Support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies. There’s a section for schools https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/for-schools
Gaddum Gaddum provides a needs-led therapeutic service for Manchester and Salford children and families. The Gaddum Centre offers Children’s Bereavement Counselling and works with individuals following a bereavement. Initially it has to be a young person who is referred. Once that referral has been accepted, they can also provide support to the adults who are caring for the child or young person. https://www.gaddumcentre.co.uk/ - Online services are only being provided at present.