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How to be a great Tutor! - for children with Special Educational Needs

There are many ways to be a great tutor! If you have the patience and creativity, working with children who have special educational needs can be very rewarding.

Here are some tips on how to be a great tutor for children with special needs:

1.Behaviour is a form of communication. Often for children and young people, behaviour is their only form of communication to be seen and heard.

2.It's essential to have an authentic relationship with the child or young person, acknowledge their emotions, and validate how that child is feeling at that time so they know they are understood.

3.Become the safe adult - The safe adult works on building positive memories to replace the negative memories of learning-based experiences and shame. This can be done by genuinely supporting a student's talents and interests with age-appropriate sensory activities within the tuition.

4.Scaffold learning through play - play is key; the repetition of fun activities builds positive memories to retain feelings of joy and happiness. This supports children and young people to return to lessons and remember information.

5.Visuals and Dyslexia Friendly Resources - add visuals and make or re-format resources to be dyslexia-friendly! Use sans serif fonts like Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Trebuchet, Calibri, Open Sans or Ariel. Font size should be a minimum of 12-14 points. Use a wider line spacing. Avoid underlining and italics as this can make the text appear to run together.

6.Set boundaries and stick to them - it's confusing if we treat behaviour as funny one day and negative the next. Model the impact of a crossed boundary, give choices, maintain the routine, and plan changes when possible.

7.Meet students where they are at without judgement or shock - for example: 'a young person came in with a tag. They came up and said, my tag hurts my ankle'. Instead of saying, ‘you shouldn't have got it in the first place' we provided calming cream from another member of staff and a plaster. This basic need was met without fuss, then he resumed his BTEC lesson.'

8.Catch a young person in, rather than out - notice and acknowledge the small positives. Rather than highlighting what a young person has done wrong, acknowledge what they are doing right!

9.If can't PACE change your face. What we mean is, if you can't empathise with a student's distressed behaviour, swap with another safe adult lead. PACE = Playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy.

10.No learning can take place with a dysregulated child – the brain simply can't think! - Use age-appropriate ‘clever play', students can explore their feelings with sensory activities. This in turn calms the dysregulated brain and enables the individual to have space to access their thinking. This takes many repetitions and a systematic constant reparative approach.

This article was produced by our colleagues at Tuition Extra!

Tuition Extra is a Kent-based tutoring and education service which provides bespoke learning opportunities for children and young people aged 4 to 25 years. We operate holistically and in a young-person-centred way which removes barriers to learning harnessing interests and building aspirations.

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