For anyone who has children, “big school” can be quite daunting and even more so the words “special needs school”. There are so many negative connotations to those two words but what does special needs actually mean? Special needs refer to the fact that the child has a difficulty in a learning, behaviour or emotional area. It means that the child requires additional support in order for them to grow in those different aspects of life. Let us take a look into the different types of special needs and how a special needs school can benefit your child.
Special needs is a somewhat umbrella term for children who have difficulties within their physical, mental, emotional or behavioural growth. Special needs can be anything from children who have ADHD to Down Syndrome to Autism or even just learning difficulties. Special needs schooling has become widely encouraged and supported in recent times as they are able to provide a personalized support system for your child. Generally, a special needs school will consist of a team of therapists ready to work hands on with your child to ensure they receive the support they require. You may be wondering what it is about a special needs school that differentiates them from a mainstream school. Would it not make more sense for a child to attend a mainstream school and receive their additional support after hours? While this strategy may work for some children, the significance behind a special needs school is their IEP approach. An IEP is an Individualized Educational Program. This means that a very specific program is compiled for the child according to their needs. While some mainstreams schools may not, most special needs schools welcome facilitation.
Facilitators are individuals who assist children with their IEP, their emotional coping, their social skills and possibly even their physical capabilities within their own schooling environment. Typically, a day in the life of a facilitator is to provide any kind of support the child may require. I actually work closely with a school in Cape Town who consider themselves an “all inclusive”. I remember thinking about the fact that it wouldn’t really work as everyone would be a different pace and this may put pressure on the children with learning difficulties but once I became more involved with the school, I realized just how amazing this kind of environment really is. The mainstream children will continue to learn in a mainstream setting while the special needs children have their IEPs and their facilitators to assist. How wonderful would it be to grow up in an environment that not only accommodates you but also teaches you to be completely tolerant and compassionate to others and their pace.
Our approach at Catch Up Kids is actually not at all different to the above-mentioned all-inclusive school. Catch Up Kids special needs school approaches learning challenges by not only creating a specialized IEP for the child but also the love, support and encouragement any child requires to learn.
How does it work?
Catch Up Kids offers both school facilitation as well as a centre where your child can attend. A qualified team will be put together at the very beginning of your child’s journey with us. A supervisor will then either do a school observation to observe and evaluate where your child is at or alternatively, an intake workshop will be conducted, and their skills evaluated. The supervisor will then formulate a personal IEP for your child that will address all domains to ensure they are able to cope with their school year be it emotionally, socially, academically or even behaviourally. Once the IEP is created, the team sets out to work tirelessly to ensure your child receives the support they need. Monthly workshops will then be conducted to review your child’s IEP and their progress.
There are so many benefits of helping a child reach their full potential. Catch Up Kids will assist your child better understand their schoolwork, boost their confidence and build important learning and coping skills. Your child will receive individualized attention that they may not receive in a classroom setting. Learning with Catch Up Kids becomes fun with our constant support, encouragement, social praise and positive reinforcement. All of this contributes to the child feeling less overwhelmed the setting and workload. When a child is able to learn better it leads to a boost in confidence and self-esteem amongst their peers as they are provided with the correct tools in order to keep up with their class. As much as we provide the 1:1 attention, we at Catch Up Kids also encourage independence as the child realizes their full potential.
What I love most about Catch Up Kids is the fact that it is so personal. I have such a special bond with all the children I have worked with. You tend to take their struggles on as your own, their battles are your battles, which gives us at Catch Up Kids the motivation to push even harder for the child. I could write so many success stories about how not only our IEPs have benefitted children but more so about how our determination, love and support has benefitted our children. Being in a “big school” can be a very scary place for a child, especially a child with learning difficulties as it can be quite an overwhelming overload but knowing there will be a team of people in your corner, fighting for you every day makes the world of a difference.