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The Inclusive Home and School Learning Environment

Staff Blogger Sally Flynn
Assistant Dean of Learning – Inclusive Practices

Over the past couple of months, we were all bombarded with articles, warnings, cartoons and jokes about the challenges of a home-based learning environment. It is true that it was certainly different. Some students found it suited their learning style while others struggled with motivation, a change to routine or a lack of interaction with their teachers and school friends. Teachers missed the ability to easily interact in person with our young gentlemen. It is one of the true delights of being a teacher.

A silver lining in all of this was the opportunity for parents to gain a better understanding of their son’s learning, particularly the more nuanced details of what works best at home. As an educator in the Inclusive Practices Department of the College, I am often engaged in understanding and supporting the individual in the classroom. This term, parents also had the unique opportunity to determine and understand their son’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences.

Individual practices encouraged success and now you can keep those good home-based practices going even though we have returned to face to face learning. Here are just a few points to consider when supporting your son at home with homework and assignments:

• Keep a nightly routines to help set the tone for homework and study.
• Remain calm, positive, supportive and optimistic on the outside no matter what happens.
• All boys can learn and learn well, regardless of their unique challenges. We all have challenges!
• Learning is not ‘one size fits all’. You may need to make adjustments for some of the following:

1. Communication: Is your son slow at reading or finds sentence construction difficult? He may benefit from seeing the words and sentences and hearing them read out loud as well. Students who don’t already use Read, Write Gold or Dragon naturally speaking may like to try Immersive Reader. It works with Microsoft products such as Word, Outlook, Teams and OneNote.
2. Concentration: Remove anything distracting, increase the time that full concentration is required for tasks but encourage regular brain breaks. Promote the use of fidget tools if you think they might help.
3. Overwhelm: Our young people are often used to experiencing things in bite sized bits through a vast array of social and general media. A whole activity may seem overwhelming. If this happens, break the requirements up into smaller bits and encourage them to take on one bit at a time.
4. Anxiety: This can come out of overwhelm and lead to procrastination. Help your son to map out major requirements and set priorities. Set short and long term goals or use lists they can tick off. Encourage one step at a time. Model dot point 3 above.
5. Motivation: Work on mutually agreed goals and expectations for the week ahead. Be flexible. Encourage movement and fun in brain break times. Give lots of praise. Set consequences if you need to and follow through. Stay positive no matter what.

Finally, build on the ATCLearns@Home opportunity for what it was: the chance to work in partnership with the College and an array of expert teachers and support professionals. We are all here to support you and your son, and we are so pleased to have the boys back with us for the rest of Term 2!

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