Marie Law, a teacher at The Sheiling College describes how Katie’s mother was was supported to record her daughter’s progress with learning at home.
Katie is a student in her last year at The Sheiling College. When the Covid-19 lockdown began, she was near completion of her study programme and accredited learning. Maria (her mother) wanted to keep as much normality as possible with her learning. She was given basic guidelines and adaptive targets to complete at home. Katie still follows a timetable which mum has been able to adapt where necessary.
To try and continue her study programme, Maria was sent targets that could be achieved in the family home. Maria was given a description against each target, and what prompt she should use with Katie. Her tutor was able to guide Maria throughout the processes including how to sign off to say when a target has been achieved. Symbolised instructions to supply visual prompts were also provided.
To help capture evidence of targets being completed Maria has sent videos and images which correspond with the target achieved. Maria has been able to update and describe step by step how Katie has achieved or struggled with a particular area. We have been able to come up with creative strategies to overcome any barriers, whether this has been sending resourceful tools, such as a maths square or providing more symbolised instructions via email.
Katie took her Sheiling book home to document her journey through Covid- 19 and has been using it as a self-reflective tool. She has been independently cooking for herself over the last year and has excelled in this area. To keep as many skills as possible, Katie has been using her cooking folder and symbolised recipes to help her continue embedding core skills in the kitchen, helping to keep her independence.
The college has used this approach for a range of students with ASD and learning disabilities, working at Entry 1-3, where they have some comprehension of the situation and are able to work with a family member in a focused and productive way. It has been particularly effective for students like Katie who are in their final year of study. It is not, however, an approach that would be suitable for all. For some parents/carers being asked to track learning would be an unwelcome pressure. The capacity of the family to provide support must be considered very carefully before placing expectations on them.
Top tips and key considerations
- Ensure that the family has capacity and appetite for this type of home learning. Do not make assumptions; instead base your approach on carefully onsidered conversations with parents/carers.
- Do not make parents/carers feel guilty for not having the capacity to track or monitor progress.
- Choose your targets carefully and do not overload a parent/carer with lots of targets. Adapt targets if necessary to make sure they are accessible from the home environment.
- Provide a lot of support, guidance and frameworks for assessment for parents but keep them simple (for example a prompt hierarchy)
- Remember parent/carers judgements will likely be very different from an experienced educator; in particular they may not be know how much or what type of support to give.