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Helping students with special educational needs sustain learning at home during the festive season

Mr Godwin Lai
Principal Assistant Secretary (Special Education)

     Christmas and New Year holidays are just around the corner. Although everyone is supposed to stay at home as far as practicable to prevent the spread of the epidemic, we can still have a good time in this joyful season. For example, children and parents can work together to decorate their home for Christmas, make snacks, or just chat about funny things in daily life. For students, they are expected to make good use of the holidays to consolidate learning, and parents may remind them to do so in order to maintain their drive for learning. As regards students with special educational needs (SEN), since these students and their parents may have relatively more challenges to overcome, the Education Bureau (EDB) has specifically updated the series of online resources known as "Joyful Online Learning at Home"(available on the EDB website at www.edb.gov.hk/tc/edu-system/special/support/wsa/pro-support/senco/homelearning_tips.html). Tailored to meet the needs of students with SEN, these resources help them deal with emotions and learn at home while spending quality time with their parents during the holidays.

 

     In view of the resurgence of the epidemic, face-to-face classes have been suspended since early December. As far as we know, the Special Educational Needs Coordinators and Student Support Teams in most schools have devised alternative support plans and maintained cooperation with professionals to offer support to students with SEN flexibly. For instance, apart from adopting assignments designed by teachers, schools choose training materials prepared by school-based speech therapists to provide targeted support for students with SEN. To help these students sustain learning during the holidays, we suggest that teachers make use of the "Joyful Online Learning at Home" series with appropriate adaptions according to students' situations.

 

     To support teachers and parents in helping students with specific learning difficulties enhance their reading and writing abilities, the "Joyful Online Learning at Home" series have been enriched through the inclusion of instructional reading resources for upper primary students, enrichment of materials to facilitate self-learning on using speech-to-text software, and provision of newly developed resources on helping students generate and organise ideas in writing with self-questioning strategy.

 

     Furthermore, we have enriched the teaching materials on enhancement of the social adaptive skills of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). They include understanding the routines at school, learning social etiquette and coping with failure, etc. Besides, we have included tips on mastering Chinese reading and writing skills and learning strategies with a view to providing teachers and parents with comprehensive support in remediating students with ASD who encounter difficulties in language learning.

 

     For supporting students with attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, the "ABC behaviour analysis method", introduced among the aforesaid online resources, helps parents identify ways to prevent and stop children from repeating mistakes, and assist children to develop good habits. Parents are encouraged to make use of interesting daily activities to help children acquire such executive functioning skills as goal-setting, organising and planning. The online resources also suggest methods to parents of primary students for creating an environment conducive to learning and helping children manage their time effectively. Moreover, there are tips on helping secondary students relieve the stress they experience when preparing for examinations and allocate their time effectively. Parents may follow the advice therein and guide their children in setting and achieving goals.

 

         Besides the "Joyful Online Learning at Home" series, the educational psychologists of the EDB have produced two e-posters to promote positivity among secondary students in coping with examinations amid the epidemic. Using everyday language and a lively tone, the e-posters tell students and their parents how to use positive skills to cope with examination stress and maintain physical and mental well-being. They were uploaded onto the EDB website for the reference of teachers and parents in mid-December (Homepage > Teachers Related > Prevention of Student Suicides and Promotion of Student Mental Health > Resource Packages and Guidelines).

 

     I take this opportunity to send my warmest wishes to all children and parents for happy moments and joyful learning at home in this festive season.

 

 

22 December 2020