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.

Special needs schools have had a stigma or negative connotation attached to it, like it was something to be ashamed of. In more recent times, special needs schools are much more accepted and understood. Some children cannot cope in mainstream schools, this could be due to a visible disability like blindness or a less apparent disability like ADHD. Many kids need extra help and attention to be able to perform well academically and keep up with the curriculum. Special needs schools provide this extra attention and support that kids with special needs need in order to thrive.

A student with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. Symptoms of ADHD can range from mild to severe, it depends on the person’s unique genetic make-up and environment. Some people are somewhat inattentive or hyperactive when they perform a task they don’t like, but they have the ability to focus on tasks they do like. Others can experience more severe symptoms during both enjoyable and disliked tasks. These symptoms can affect a student at school, at home and in social situations.

A student with ADHD will struggle in the classroom as the tasks that these students find difficult such as sitting still and concentrating are the ones they are required to implement during class time. These students will also struggle at home when it is time for homework and completing assignments.

These students will also struggle with their confidence in themselves and their capabilities. Special needs schools also play an important role here as the students are in an environment that supports them and gives them the attention they need as well as they are surrounded by other students who also struggle in a similar way to them.

At Catch-up Kids we help students who are falling behind in their classes, whether it be mainstream schooling or a special needs school. A few of these students have ADHD or struggle with similar symptoms as ADHD. These students come to Catch Up Kids in the afternoons after their day at school.

Each catch-up kid will have a supervisor, a team lead as well as a team that is dedicated to helping the student keep up with their school curriculum as well as build the skills that the student is lacking such as memory or attention. The supervisor will develop a program that targets these specific problem areas so that the child can practice and develop those skills at the centre after school.

A typical afternoon for a catch-up kid would include doing homework as well as the lessons recommended by the supervisor. These lessons can be auditory memory, sight words, sustained attention, emotional coping strategies and more.

In conclusion, special needs schools provide students with the extra attention and support they need to cope with the curriculum. Catch Up Kids also provides this support by helping students with homework and also running lessons that target the deficit areas of the students to not only help them along but give them the tools they need to develop and grow.

This paper serves to explore the reasons for children in South Africa receiving recommendations to move from mainstream to remedial schools and the current state of affairs in terms of the education system’s ability to accommodate those recommendations.

Schooling in broad terms refers to “education received at school”, however for a child on the spectrum schooling can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulties with socialisation, they are sensitive to bright light, loud noises and busy hallways, they might also need extra time for assignments and homework, and they can sometimes become easily frustrated. Special needs schooling offer children with Autism or any related disorder a chance to excel in an environment that corresponds with their needs. These children obtain one-on-one individual attention and can learn in an environment that is structured according to their immediate capabilities and needs.

Children with Autism often have extensive and long-term educational needs, and this requires that a multidisciplinary team of individuals are involved, along with thorough planning and ongoing monitoring of progress. Therefore, a cooperative team-based approach is necessary to plan, implement and monitor individualised progress. Special needs schooling is therefore significant in order to experience change in children/individuals with certain day-to-day challenges. Children with Autism can progress in their communication skills, social interactions, problem-solving abilities and learn appropriate behaviours once placed in a setting that encourages and fights for the development of these skills. Offering a safe schooling environment can have a major impact on how these children learn and grow.

There is an extreme need for early intervention today in order to support children/individuals with these types of special needs, however the reality is that these institutions are not always readily available, and they often come with a steep price-tag. Special needs schooling is a specialised trade and therefore more resources, such as specialised facilitators and materials, and time is needed for these children to reach their full potential.

I have had the opportunity to experience a child on the spectrum go to a normal mainstream school as well as a special needs school and the differences between these two forms of schooling is surprising. In a mainstream school a child might just be a number, but in a special needs schooling setting the child is the only number. The child and the child’s progress become the number one priority for facilitators at a special needs schooling level. A facilitator in a special needs schooling environment has an obligation towards the child they invest their time into, therefore the child’s needs come first, and their progression is on the top of the list. In a special needs schooling environment, the child has a safe space to experience normal day-to-day understandings and they also have a structured environment and a place where they can learn based on their own individualised capabilities.

Special needs schooling should become a priority for everyone within society, because we all have an obligation to grow the seeds of tomorrow, today!

After completing my studies, I was looking for a career that was evidence based and fool proof. Special needs schools are tough environments but Catch up Kids gives each child their own personal space and freedom for their personality to flourish and to be who they are. A Special needs schooling system is not supposed to brainwash children, they are there to facilitate, guide and nurture their growth. Which is what I have experienced at catch up kids.

Catch up Kids is a special needs school that helps students which struggle in school, amongst their peers and people they know. It is a safe environment where kids can prepare themselves for tasks done at school, to get them ready to do everyday activities, to make kids aware of what is expected of them. It is a place were children can be themselves without being judged. A special needs school environment where they can practice things that are expected of them in everyday scenarios.

Catch up Kids can work with children with communication, attentional and any social interaction issues as well as working with children that have restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour. They can even work with and facilitate higher functioning kids and even kids with a vast amount of problem behaviours. They are a special needs school that has a consistent team that is responsible to create change within the kid’s life. This team works together to help motivate and build confidence amongst the children.

The special needs schooling system at Catch up Kids is well versed in dealing with disorders like ADHD. They even have instructors that are capable of going to the children’s school to help them participate in their classroom, help out with explaining tasks, and maintaining any problem behaviour so that the entire class is not affected every time by it. This special needs school is equipped to handle any demands/ requirements from the child or their parents/caregivers and work in conjunction with the child’s family to bring about change that is functional.

The Catch up kids special needs schooling centres help facilitate with school readiness, they prepare students that need to prepare for students who can’t be expected to, once they are thrown out, to fend for themselves. The special needs schooling teaches the kids correct handling and coping procedures, mastering the work before its presented at school, making sure lessons are planned out appropriately based on the uniqueness of the child. For all children are Not the same, and the special needs school Catch up kids is more than capable of reacting and teaching different kids, differently. They tailor each child’s program to the child and not one child is forced to be the same as everyone else.

This special needs schooling system is evidence based so, every response, every lesson, and every part of the progress is documented and data is collected on it. There are teams of instructors and supervisors that work very hard in making sure the program a kid is following is worth their benefit and will create impactful change.