Article | March 18, 2020
We’re only three months into 2020, yet the world has already witnessed enough challenging times to last for the entire year: the massive bushfires in Australia, the volcano eruption and the earthquake in the Philippines, the floods in Jakarta, the powerful storms in the US and Western Europe and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic. I live and teach in the Philippines, a country that is also affected by typhoons about 20 times a year, by monsoon rains that cause flooding and also by man-made disasters such as armed conflicts in some regions. I may be exposed to more disasters than the average educator, but believe me when I say, there are no winners in these situations. Every aspect of life can be — and usually is — negatively impacted by natural disasters. Education makes no exception.
Article | June 21, 2021
When you think of a playground what do you think of? Swings, slides, roundabouts?
Many years ago, these would be constructed without too much thought gone into the risks to ordinary children falling or losing grip. I have several siblings. We all sustained injuries at the local park. One fell off the high slide and lost her front teeth. One slid forward on the slippery rocking horse and had stitches in her chin. Another caught her foot on the roundabout as she tried to jump off when another child was pushing it too fast for her liking. I could go on.
Today playgrounds have to meet the European safety standards and safety surfacing has to be installed under swings, slides, and roundabouts. This must adhere to the current standard for impact absorbing playground surfaces.
It is good that playgrounds today meet these safety standards.
Yet. If your child is unable to walk, how will they get on that swing, that roundabout, that slide?
More and more children with disabilities are being educated in mainstream schools. Parents no longer think that a disability should stop their child from accessing the local playground. What is available to students with disabilities in these playgrounds?
Special schools have had to cater for students with disabilities when planning a playground but do ordinary schools? It is an act of discrimination if a child with a disability cannot enjoy being out on the playground as much as the able bodied child.
There was a time when the only wheelchair swing took ages to set up for a child to enjoy just 5 minutes of swing time. Anbakgard in Denmark have designed a wheelchair swing that takes just two minutes to set up and has additional seating for peers to join the experience. To see one in action go to https://YouTube.be/vh4NSOTULdA.
There are roundabouts that include a safety space for wheelchairs and slides that allow adults to accompany children on them for support. There are outdoor trampolines specifically for wheelchairs. There are birds nest swings that allow students with mild physical disabilities more space to enjoy the vestibular sensory stimulation. There are many sites that now provide play equipment to suit all kinds of needs. One such site is https://www.gljones-playgrounds.co.uk who provided our school with a lot of its play equipment.
There are climbing walls specifically geared to wheelchair users. Visit http://www.rockclimbingcentral.comto see the benefits to building muscle strength, endurance, strength, agility and flexibility.
When our children have missed out so much on play during the pandemic it is important that we provide all children with their right to play by ensuring that playgrounds everywhere are inclusive.
Article | August 3, 2020
During this important time in your high school student’s life, they’re just beginning to explore their interests and the possible career paths. Your support is vital to making that exploration comfortable and exciting. To aid you in your student’s journey, here are several ways you can prepare your high school student for the career of their dreams: As your student goes through high school, they will begin exploring career paths, joining clubs and organizations and participating in extracurricular activities.
Article | October 1, 2020
Since some schools across the UK have started to re-open in phases, it’s opened up a whole new set of questions for families. What will it be like for our kids? How will my child adjust to school after months at home? As well as adjusting academically to full-time education again, the emotional impact will be big too.
We spoke to NHS Senior Clinical Psychologist, Dr Shreena Ghelani, about how parents can help their get kids ready to return to school, whenever that might be. Here’s what she had to say:
Prepare in advance
Before it’s time for them to go back, keep school in the minds of your kids – drive past the school if you can so that they can see that it’s still there.
When they’ve been given a return date, treat it like the beginning of the school year. Do a test run of getting ready in the morning, make sure school uniform fits, practice packing bags and walking the route to school.
For younger children, they may need a settling in period again – parents may have to come into the classroom and ensure their child is settled.
For teenagers – use the time while they’re still at home to keep their friendships alive by video call etc. This will help make returning back to their peer group feel less unfamiliar.
One step at a time
Even when school re starts, you may find that children are more tired than usual by the extra demands and sensory stimulation placed on them. Ease them back in to their routine gently and wait to start other activities (clubs and activities) in a few weeks time.
When the time comes, you’ll find you’ll feel less stressed if you know there will be bumps in the road.
Allow enough space and time in a new schedule for any hiccups so that you’re not having to manage too many demands (i.e batch cook dinners before hand, don’t agree to extra activities or if possible, adopt flexible working hours).
Try to notice if you’re feeling anxious about the return to school in any way and if so, spend some time thinking about it and unpicking it. If children pick up on your anxieties they may feel anxious too.
Managing worry and anxiety
If you know your child might struggle with going back to school, try developing a toolbox of things they can do when they are worried at school. This might include a song to sing to them selves, visualising a calm place, some affirmation cards, practicing a breathing techniques and identifying safe staff they can tell. You can make this box together and the child can take some bits with them to school.
Speak to your children about the impact of Coronavirus
Let children know that it is likely that other families have been impacted by the virus (whether that’s key worker parents working hard, or family bereavements). Encourage your child to be patient with and kind to other children. Talk to them about what they might still be expected to do – not hug friends, wash their hands often, not share food or toys etc.
For any children with special educational needs, they might need adaptations made for them. This might include visiting the school while it’s empty to familiarise them with the space, a video call with their teacher or a more phased return than other pupils – whatever’s best for them.