Saturday, December 4

Petition for Teachers to Visit Disabled Children at Level 4

Changes are requested in the Level 4 rules so that teachers can visit disabled children in their homes.

Student holding pencils for mathematical calculation, homework.

File photo. One principal said that it can be very difficult for some children with special needs to learn at home.
Photo: 123RF

School principals say that some children with behavioral and special educational needs do not adapt well to distance learning.

They say that children and their families need more support than they can get through the Internet.

Pukekohe’s wife, Kristen Hughes, said she was locked up with her husband Jeff, daughter Hannah and their 17-year-old son, Liam, who has autism.

He said trying to get Liam to accept that he should learn at home might be more troublesome than it was worth.

“School happens at school, it’s not something that happens at home, so it’s very difficult to make him understand that point, so Jeff, his sister and I failed miserably as teachers,” she said.

Hughes said her son loved his school’s online exercise and music sessions, but would really benefit from home visits.

“For someone to come in, even if it is only half an hour, 45 minutes a day or every other day, so that there is some continuity in contact and so that they know that they have not been abandoned,” he said. .

The principal of Berhampore School in Wellington, Mark Potter, said remote learning could be difficult for some children with special needs.

“For families with children with disabilities who have additional learning needs, it is very difficult to learn from home. Many of those children use the adults they have in school as part of their learning process, they do not necessarily respond as well to the learning. screens and they find it very difficult without having someone to help them facilitate and navigate their learning. “

He said the confinement was putting a lot of pressure on some families.

The government had made an exemption to the level 4 rules that allow childcare for essential workers and should also make an exemption that allows support for disabled children.

“If we had the ability to have specialized staff that many schools have, who can actually provide support while keeping the safe bubbles limited, that would be very helpful,” he said.

“There are some organizations that are approved home caregivers, but they have no relationship with the child or the family and that makes it really difficult.”

The principal of Parkside Specialist School in Pukekohe, Carol Willard, said the school was tailoring its remote learning to the needs of each child and also offered exercise sessions and group music.

He said that during the confinements the families were trying to do the work that the schools did with groups of teachers, specialists and assistants.

“Families have to deal with this on their own. And that’s what we found out, it’s very, very difficult for our families to access the support they might need once they are locked up.”

“And that’s not just with the students, the kids that they’re dealing with, it’s things like going out to get supplies and essential drugs and whatever,” he said.

Willard said that society should think about the needs of disabled children first.

“More than an afterthought or nothing at all, which seems to be the case sometimes, we should think first of our most vulnerable students in the country because if we think about those students and the needs of them and their families, we can take care of everyone.” , said.

Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Enabling and Sector Support, Helen Hurst, said schools could get help with remote learning for children with special needs from teachers of learning and behavior resources and specialists from the ministry.

“For example, our specialists are doing ‘home visits’ and evaluations over Skype, using videos to complete observations, conducting ‘telepractice’ sessions over the phone, and helping families use what is available in their homes to support the learning their youth, “he said.

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