Back To School – Resources To Help Children With Additional Needs And Their Families

It seems like a lifetime ago that ‘Lockdown’ began, including the closure of school to all but a few children, in an attempt to limit the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

In reality it was just three months ago… the equivalent of two school summer holidays. For some the time has passed uneventfully, children have been home schooled and life while quieter has continued smoothly. For some it has been hard, the change, disruption and isolation has taken its toll on both children and their families. For some, of course, this has been a devastating period as they have mourned the loss of loved family or friends. Mental, emotional and physical health has been affected in most children, and this can be exacerbated even more for children with additional needs.

With ‘Lockdown’ now easing, and with school gradually opening up, a fresh set of challenges have arrived. Children that have got used to the ‘new normal’ of life at home are struggling to adapt to going back to school. Whether children have been able to engage with home schooling or not, suddenly finding themselves in a classroom again is a difficult transition to cope with, especially as school isn’t like it used to be. With perhaps maximum class groups of 15, many pupils going in every other week, and complex social distancing and personal hygiene rules to follow there is still a lot for children to cope with and it is understandable that this can, and is, causing anxiety and stress.

There is a growing amount of support out there to help families, and this blog post attempts to pull some of this together into one place so that families can access what will help them. I hope that this resource will continue to grow as further resources are discovered, so do keep coming back to see what else might be helpful for you and your child.

So, here’s what I’ve found so far:

Twinkl

There’s a free download on the Twinkl website that helps explain returning to school:
https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/returning-to-school-social-situation-t-s-2548814

You will also be able to link to other helpful resources from here.

Widgit

There are also free resources about returning to school on the Widgit website:
https://www.widgit.com/resources/popular-topics/back-to-school-june/index.htm

Makaton
There’s a free downloadable pack about going back to school on the Makaton website too:
https://www.makaton.org/shop/shopping/freeDownloadDetails/Going-Back-to-School

ReachoutASC
Lynn McCann at ReachoutASC has provided a wealth of free downloadable resources here:
https://www.reachoutasc.com/resources/transition-to-new-class

Action for Children
Knowing how to talk things through with children can be hard, here’s some easy steps to follow from Action for Children:
https://www.parents.actionforchildren.org.uk/returning-to-school

ParentKind
There’s lots of useful information on the ParentKind website that can help you navigate a path through these difficult times too:
https://www.parentkind.org.uk/News–Blog

Do-IT>

A wide range of useful free downloadable resources can be found on the Do-IT> website, under their rather appropriate heading of ‘Survive, Revive and Thrive’:
https://www.doitprofiler.com/survive-revive-thrive/

LGfL
The London Group for Learning site has some helpful Social Stories, including different versions of a return to school one:
https://www.lgfl.net/covid19socialstories

Autism little Learners
Just love this site, so full of useful stuff and there are some great Social Stories on this link:
https://www.autismlittlelearners.com/search/label/COVID-19

As with all Social Stories, these should be adapted or used as a starting point to create a specific version for each child. More information about how to create Social Stories can be found on Lynn McCann’s site here: https://www.reachoutasc.com/resources (scroll to the bottom for links to info on social stories).

I hope these resources help you to stay informed able to inform and support the children you are engaged with, either as family or as children’s/youth workers, as they return to school.

About Mark Arnold

Mark heads up Urban Saints pioneering additional needs ministry programme and is co-founder of the ‘Additional Needs Alliance’, a learning and support community. He is a ‘Churches for All’ partner, a member of both the ‘Council for Disabled Children’ and the ‘Living Fully Network’, and serves on the executive for ‘Children Matter!’ Most importantly, he is dad to James, a 17-year-old Autistic boy with Learning Difficulties and Epilepsy.

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