Every child learns differently, however, some children may experience learning difficulties as they develop. This may mean that they need some form of special educational needs to ensure they get the most out of their time in school.

Children experiencing learning difficulties aren’t as uncommon as you may think. For many children, these learning difficulties can be temporary and worked through with help from their school and at home. For some children, special needs education will form a part of their journey through school, so here’s what you need to know to help your child do their best. 

What is SEN (Special Educational Needs)? 

SEN or special educational needs is a term that refers to children that have learning difficulties, or perhaps have a disability, that impacts the way that they learn. This means that a traditional school setting may not be the best way for a child with special educational needs to learn, or that they may need extra support in school with an adapted style of education. 

Children with special educational needs may face barriers to learning due to communication, processing, concentration or physical abilities more than most children in their age group would. 

Children that have special educational needs will likely need more help than other students in their age group or may need to be taught in different ways. As mentioned earlier, this can be a temporary provision for some SEN students or it might be something they need to have in place throughout their entire school journey. 

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You may have heard SEN and SEND used interchangeably, however, this isn’t necessarily correct. 

As we’ve already talked about, SEN stands for special educational needs. This is a term used for children that need additional help to get the most out of their education due to barriers with learning in a school setting. This specifically refers to children that struggle more than most other children of their age group. 

SEND stands for special educational needs and disabilities. This is a more specific term for children that need extra help with their learning because of a disability they have. While it’s common for children with disabilities to have extra educational needs, not all disabled children will fit into the category of SEN students. 

SEN students: understanding their needs

Like any child in school, SEN students are entitled to an education that’s broad, balanced and suitable to their needs. A lot of children with special educational needs will have those needs met with standard schooling, however, some SEN students will need more specialised education help. 

Children that experience difficulty with their learning can receive additional help in school. You can get in touch with your child’s school if you think that they need more learning support. 

Getting help for your child with special educational needs

It’s good to identify special educational needs in your child’s early years if you can. That way you can make sure that they get the support they need during this important stage of their development. 

Whether you have concerns of your own, or a doctor or health visitor has suggested your child may have developmental problems with their learning, it may be time to speak to your child’s school. 

When you speak to your child’s teacher or headteacher you could ask: 

  • If they think your child is having problems with their learning

  • If your child is struggling to work at the same level as other children in the class

  • If your child is already getting extra help

  • What you can do at home to help them.

The school may agree that your child has special educational needs. From there your child’s school will be responsible for taking a step-by-step approach to recognising your child’s needs and ensuring that they’re met, so your child can have the education they deserve.

What difficulties do SEN students face?

Children with special educational needs can experience difficulties in education in several ways. Understanding what those difficulties are can help you to help your child both in and out of school with their learning and development. 

These areas of difficulty for SEN students can include:

  • General learning, thinking and understanding difficulties: your child may struggle with many different areas of learning, including spelling, reading and writing

  • Emotional and behavioural difficulties: your child may find it difficult to settle down or follow rules, leading to behavioural issues in school

  • Communication difficulties: your child may have difficulty with communication, struggling to understand others or express themselves. This can make it difficult to understand the world around them or make friends.

  • Physical and sensory difficulties: your child may have a disability that impacts their senses or a medical condition that impacts their learning.  

Small ways of overcoming the difficulties faced by SEN students

While it may seem like everything is working against you and your child if they have special educational needs, there is help out there and there are ways you can help your child with their education. 

  • Regular communication with their teacher: if your child has special educational needs, try to keep in contact with the teacher regularly. This can help with forming positive relationships in your child’s school environment through their teacher. It can also help you understand how to ensure any progress made in the classroom is carried on at home.

  • Encourage your child to ask for help: children with special educational needs may struggle with their self-esteem, particularly when it comes to learning and social situations. But you can encourage your child to ask for help when they need it. Also, by keeping up regular communication with their teacher, you can ask their teachers to provide that same encouragement. Remind your child that their feelings, thoughts and curiosities are valid. This can also really help your child’s teacher get a better understanding of how your child processes information.

  • Set realistic goals: again this can be something done with your child’s teacher so that everyone is on the same page. The emphasis is on “realistic” here, so ensure the goals you set are definitely achievable for your child. These can be simple goals like concentrating in class, limiting disruptive behaviour, and showing respect for their teachers and classmates. Make sure you use positive reinforcement to encourage your child to stick to these goals. 

  • Be enthusiastic and excited about your child’s learning: if your child struggles with their learning, show enthusiasm for every small win that they have. That could be part of the positive reinforcement for their realistic goals. 

Special Educational Needs and Explore Learning

At Explore Learning we understand that every child learns differently. As diverse and inclusive educators, we believe that every child deserves an education that works for them, and know some children may need an extra helping hand to get the most out of their education. 

We know how to celebrate every small win and be the cheerleaders your child needs if they’re a SEN student. We’ll support your child in their education by getting to know how they learn, and how they respond to teaching. From there we can plan out extra academic support that your child needs to do their best in school. 

If your child has special educational needs why not give tuition with Explore Learning a try? Our expert tutors will support your child every step of the way with their learning journey. 

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