Home-school collaboration for SEN students

July 21, 2017 17:34
Parents and teachers need to work together to take better care of SEN students. Simple issues like making sure the kids take their medicines on time require collaboration between the two sides. Photo: Xinhua

As I have noted in my previous article, schools can better support students with special educational needs (SEN) when apprised by parents of the capabilities and needs of their children.

Practical arrangements for taking medication and achieving learning targets can be made in the best interest of the schoolchildren.

Most pupils diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are on medication. Some of them might have to take their pills after lunch. It is not surprising that children would be absent-minded and forget their medication, which in turn would adversely affect their performance in class as well as the efficacy of the treatment.

When parents work with the school and authorize teachers or social workers to supervise their children, they can be assured that their children are given proper and timely medication.

It is natural for parents to be anxious about their children's academic performance.

The school should also provide suitable accommodation and modifications for students with different needs.

Children with shorter attention span often need more time to complete their homework. Some schools would follow the doctor’s advice to reduce the amount of assignments, especially exercises on writing, copying and reading comprehension, for SEN students. That is meant to reduce their workload and the chances of conflict between the students and their parents.

Some SEN students find it hard to read and write characters – whether Chinese, English or both –and this gives them a sense of helplessness, especially afer persistent failure in school dictations, tests and examinations.

Feasible accommodation and modifications include allowing assessments with a longer duration or reducing the scope of the examination or dictation, so that students could see their hard work pay off and they would be more willing to try out what they used to be scared of.

As far as I know, extra time allowance is also one of the special examination arrangements that is permitted in Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. Candidates with special needs should submit their applications to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority in advance.

Please note that most of these measures could be applied to SEN students only when parents produce recommendations from child and adolescent psychiatrists in writing.

When parents seek community and school support, the pressure of raising SEN children would be much lessened. It is also hoped that the measures could help boost the students’ confidence and alleviate their behavioral issues.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 17

Translation by John Chui with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Registered social worker for the child and adolescent psychiatric services