Homeschooling for Children with SEN
There can be lots of reasons for educating your child at home, particularly if they have special needs. Many children with SEN, for example, find the school environment overwhelming, causing them high levels of anxiety. For some, this can lead to challenging behaviour or refusing to go to school altogether. Other families might feel a school isn’t a good match for their son or daughter’s temperament or abilities and that home-education offers a more tailored, flexible or holistic approach to learning.
Whatever your reasons for choosing this path, it’s important to ensure that your child is happy and secure and has access to the kind of support that will allow them to thrive.
Children with special needs are equally entitled to be educated at home, regardless of whether they have an EHC Plan or just a diagnosis. The above rules also apply though this situation is slightly more complicated.
With most home-schooling, it is assumed that the parents will be in charge of their son or daughter’s learning and bear any costs. Where a child has SEN, however, they may need specialist support from someone outside the family. An example of this might be a child with dyslexia and ADHD needing a tutor with expert knowledge to come to the home and provide one-to-one lessons.
In situations such as this, the local authority will often pay for this professional help via an EOTAS ‘package’ says Sunil Chothi, an SEN advocate who advises families on all aspects of education law. However, even without local authority funding, parents may still choose to pay for expert support themselves.
“To receive this funding, parents have to demonstrate why school isn’t appropriate for their child,” he explains. “Every situation is different and there can be a range of reasons. The local authority will usually go along with it if there is evidence from CAMHS, for example, or a clinical psychologist.”
Life-skills, Adventures and Fun
Home-education isn’t only about classroom learning – tutors can also take a young person on days out or play computer games with them to build a relationship. An EOTAS budget can fund these activities as they contribute to a child’s social skills and understanding of the world at-large.
Tutor James is a former SENCO and specialises in working with autistic students one-to-one.
“One of my students lives in central London and I take him out for two hours every morning,” he explains. “We go on walks to Hyde Park and feed the ducks or play football which is useful for him as he needs to lose weight and keep fit. Sometimes we go to the British Museum on public transport – he learns to swipe his card on the bus and interact with people. These things are just as important as academic skills.
“I also take students on shopping trips,” James continues. “I give them a shopping list or use flash cards with pictures. They have to buy, say, three apples so they’re counting and using money. You can teach them without them thinking it’s an actual lesson.”
How Can a SEN Homeschooling Tutor
Help My Child?
Home-Schooling can be Life-Changing
Regulations, budgeting and bureaucracy aside, home-schooling can be a hugely positive step for a child with SEN. With support from tutors who take the time to get to know them as an individual, a young person can learn at their own pace, away from the pressures of a traditional classroom.
The tutor can create a bespoke programme, tailored to the specifications of the EHC Plan (if they have one) and led by the child’s interests and hobbies. Working one-to-one allows trust to develop which, in turn, boosts the student’s confidence and self-esteem – which may have been dented by years of trying to ‘fit in’ in a school environment.