Summer Days Drifting Away - Dominic Simpson, Jigsaw Occupational Therapy

It seems you should be careful what you wish as since my last article on how I was rapidly melting in the UK summer heatwave the temperature has coincidently dropped. And , as John Travolta sung in Grease (i’m honestly not a fan of the film, it just works for the purposes of this blog!) the summer days are slowly drifting away and we are now approaching the tail end of the summer holidays. So thoughts naturally begin to turn to returning to school and all of the organisation and preparation that process entails. We’ve waxed lyrical on returning to school a number of times and there is probably a plethora of other blogs with advice so I don’t feel we need another today. So a slightly different topic has been chosen discussing home educating a child with special needs as it was recently reported that the number of children being homeschooled in the UK has risen by approximately 40% over the past three years.

There are various reasons behind this recent rise, dissatisfaction with the school environment, lack of school choice, curriculum inflexibility and unmet special educational needs. Some parents, including many of those who have visited us here at Jigsaw, come to the realisation that it is doubtful that a school will be able to meet the needs of their child and home educating offers the opportunity for children to access their education in an appropriate way for their specific needs. If you think about it it is not realistic to think that everyone can learn in exactly the same way and homeschooling can be hugely advantageous for many children with special needs. 

A school day is a highly structured, busy and fast paced environment and this can contribute to a child reaching the end of the school day tired, overwhelmed and angry. Coping with the demands of a school day can lead to many children ‘overflowing’ once they return to the home environment and subsequently be unable to manage with any additional input or demands. Educating at home allows the child to have more flexibility with their learning and the most suitable educational materials can be used specifically for the individual child.  

The key fundamentals for home educating include ensuring that the curriculum is delivered at achievable rate for the child and that it builds on the already attained skills that are a strength. The freedom of home educating in a secure, familiar environment  can allow children to become more active learners where the child can combine physical activities with learning through exploration and discovery making the whole experience more fun. Any parents delivering home schooling do not have the follow the National Curriculum or be a qualified teacher and there is an increasing array of home equation support sites on the internet full of resources. 

Having the appropriate resources available to successfully educate a child at home is obviously a key factor in ensuring a child has the opportunity to achieve their potential within education. A child with sensory issues is still going to require additional support in the home environment to ensure they are able to attend to any tasks at hand. The Sensory Back Pack Kit and Weight Resistance Kits provide an array of easily accessible fidget toys and popular sensory tools to help children remain calm and organised throughout their day. The Weighted Cat, featured in the weight and resistance kit, can be draped around the shoulders providing deep tactile sensory input which can have a calming influence on the neurological sensory systems when sitting for table top activities and thus helping the child to feel more relaxed and ultimately helping them focus and attend. Whilst theraputty and theraband provide proprioceptive sensory input through the muscles and joints which can have a calming and organising influence on the nervous system whilst supporting body awareness and muscle tone. Each of the packs contain sensory tools which can be used at time of learning to support a child’s concentration and attention. In addition the sensory backpack kit features a Junior Wedge Cushion which helps with correct sitting posture for when table top activities are required. This can be used with the Slant Board to aid correct positioning when attending to writing activities and the Finger Fidget Pencils; a fidget aid and pencil all in one or the cross over pencil grips included in the pack.

The concept of time is a challenge with home schooling as there is naturally far less structure than a typical school day. This can be a challenging feature of home educating for many households, especially with the additional day to day tasks of life to juggle sticking to any rigid schedule is tricky.  Using Sand Timers create a greater awareness of time elapsed, offering greater responsibility and independence for children as they attend to a given piece of work, whilst the Jumbo Touch Screen and Sand Timers both offer a clear, visual timer countdown to support designated educational sessions.

We have witnessed some fantastic success stories at Jigsaw over the past few years and continued to be amazed and inspired by the amazing achievements attained by both parents and child. Everyone is unique and therefore everyone’s learning approach is unique but with the right support, tools and guidance everyone has the capability to realise their potential and enjoy their education, hopefully setting them up to continue to achieve in life after education. 

Enjoy the last few weeks of the holidays, maybe the super mega summer heatwave will return for one last blast before the leaves turn brown (so I’m told, I’m colour blind so have to take people’s word for it!) and if the temperatures do rise and I start melting in the office again then my favourite flavour ice cream is still mint choc chip, although I have been reliably informed that a mint magnum is an excellent choice also! 

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