When my twin boys were 5 years old and my daughter was 7 years old, my mother in law paid for the whole family for a trip of a lifetime to Disney Land in Florida.
We stayed in the Magic Kingdom for 2 weeks and took all the rides possible, went to all the parades and dined with Cinderella and Ariel.
When we got home I asked one of twins what was the best part of the trip and he hesitated for a moment and then said “the dead frog in the car park”……..the other 2 then waded in “Yes that was gross” and also “yuk all his legs were all squashed up”
This told me two main things. The first of which is they were obviously too young to take in the Disney experience and the second is that for children random outdoor experiences will usually be the things that they remember the most.
So this summer before you decide on what you do, maybe also decide instead where you do it. Whatever you do try as much as you can to get some relief from the long period of learning at home as a result of the pandemic.
The return to learning back in school in September is currently being planned and schools throughout the country are working especially hard to prepare for this. However now may also be the time for great concern for many children, their families and also for schools themselves?
In a recent report called Excluded Lives by Harry Daniels, Ian Thompson, Jill Porter, Alice Tawell and Hilary Emery Department of Education, University of Oxford June 2020 they have highlighted the very real risk to many children returning to school in September.
This risk is in particular with regards to children with Neurodiversity traits who not only will already be anxious about returning to school but may be more likely to struggle with the new regulations with regards to social distancing and tactile hygiene.
One the comments in the report outlines the following “Depending on the way in which new regulations are interpreted, there were seen to be new voids created through changes in timelines for statutory processes and discharging duties ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ along with a shift in terminology from ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ‘reasonable endeavours”
They go on to say “With schools being encouraged to update their behaviour policies to include new rules to ensure the health and safety of staff and students and abide by public health advice, there are concerns that schools will become far less tolerant of students who refuse to follow instructions and comply with expectations, which may result in an increase of both formal and informal exclusions. These stricter policies may also discriminate or unfairly increase the risk of exclusion for certain young people, for example, children who have conditions which make it hard for them to obey social distancing or working in ‘bubbles”
As a result it will be vital for both families and schools to be working closely in partnership in order to make this transition work.
It will take time to adjust, but it can be done and to help in the process I have designed a training programme for schools called it the SF3R approach.
S stands for Structure as staff will need to teach not just their subject material but how the students will need to adhere to the new safety rules rituals and routines. F is for Flexibility which will complement the non –negotiables by providing innovative learning techniques and strategies for both traditional and neurodiverse learners.
The 3Rs are Rapport, Relationships and Resilience which will be vital in creating a positive and productive school community.
As every school is different and will have a unique rhythm and pace in which learning, behaviour and socialisation take place the SF3R approach can be adapted to deliver specific messages and suggestions from the school leadership to be implemented by staff to their students.
September will indeed bring challenges but with planning and preparation everything is possible and really good news is that teachers and students will be able to see each other again and interact in the medium that learning takes place best…………. live.