Around six years ago we really began to realise the depths of this question from parents and families that we work with and that are part of our community. We had a phone call or conversation about it monthly. Years later this is now daily. A parent or teacher rings us daily asking for support or advice for a student that isn’t attending, won’t attend or is really struggling in school. Now we didn’t all choose to teach full-time in schools and most of us aren’t parents so we don’t have all the answers, but we do have some suggestions that could help.

 1. Don’t do this alone!

There are loads of really good charities and companies providing support for you and your child in the area but, like us, they probably don’t necessarily have the budget for advertising. Here are some that we really recommend in and around Sheffield. Just click on the links below to find out more:

Parent carer forum

A Mind Apart (Us)

Children’s University

Endeavour

Whirlow Hall Farm

Sheffield Directory

2. Know your rights

EHCPs/SEN/LAC/EAL/PIP it’s all headache inducing, we know, but as a parent you do have rights. Rights to support, rights for your child to receive the right kind of education. Fighting for you and your child’s rights can sometimes be exhausting but ultimately, it’s the only way to ensure you both get what you are legally entitled too. Again, there are some excellent recourse to help you with this.

Bright Futures

Sheffield Parent Carer Forum

Child Law Advice

3. Get them outside everyday

We fully acknowledge how difficult this can be, but as teachers in alternative education there isn’t much that cannot be solved in the immediate by going out into our sensory garden at Burton Street. The tendency to stay inside by young people and children with anxiety is strong. Couple that with your worries for their safety, we know how this can become more and more difficult. start by setting your young person small goals like; walk the dog, put bins out, help with the gardening, “take this to so and so round the corner”, pick your sister up from school, nip to the shop, help you bring the shopping in etc. Once they are stuck in their room it is incredibly difficult to get them out.

Even better, get them into something extracurricular and regular so that once or twice a week they can go somewhere and be given a boost of confidence by doing something fun. This has been proven, in a report by the Nuffield Foundation, to increase confidence and boost results in education.

The report says: “Compared with disadvantaged children who did not attend after-school club at the age of 11, those who attended after-school club one or two days per week had made significantly more progress than predicted”.

(Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36081560)

It also boosts your child’s personal and social development teaching them skills that are essential to live in this world.

BENEFITS OF EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

·         IMPROVED ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

·         BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS

·         LEARN NEW AND USEFUL SKILLS

·         SENSE OF COMMITMENT

·         SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY

·         NEW FRIENDS

·         INTRODUCTION TO NEW ACTIVITIES

·         MORE OPPORTUNITIES

(Source: https://www.theeducator.com/blog/role-extracurricular-activities-students-development/)

So, knowing this, where do you start?

For all the best information on extracurricular activities we highly recommend Children’s University, they are a really good resource as some of their activities are free and all of the activities are checked by the council to ensure the activities are high quality.

(A Mind Apart run classes every single day for ALL students of all ages, alternative education, we also run one to one sessions for those who are struggling and home education drama sessions)

 4. Have faith

We have been doing this for 11 years and never in the whole time have we ever given up on a family and we are not the only company able to say the same! Keep trying and be consistent and persistent, because it might not seem like progress is being made but there might be teeny tiny steps moving forward that you just can’t see yet. Don’t give up and do not be afraid to ask for help. This is our job, without you and the other families out there we wouldn’t have work, we are happy to help.

(NB If you are considering home educating your children please check out all the home education parent groups on Facebook they are very supportive and knowledgeable.)