With traditional Chinese cultural heritage roots in Hong Kong’s DNA, SEN families face challenges since the general is often lacking in understanding or even see it as taboos. In fact, according to SCMP, there is an estimate that one-third of students in town have SEN needs. Only in recent years, the situation has been recognized and more assistance have been made available by the government and organisations.
We understand how hard it could be as a parent with SEN kids. This guide has been written with hopes to help you navigate the daily challenges you might be facing, informing you with resources available and survival tips. Read on to get the support you deserve.
What is a Special Educational Need (SEN)?
Generally, the term “Special Educational Need” or SEN in short, is used to describe children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than peers of the same age. In Hong Kong, only students with severe or multiple SEN would be taken special care of in specialised education institutions or centres. Otherwise, most of the SEN students would still be placed in normal schools, some with a dedicated, licensed SEN coordinator or therapist based in the school.
Major types of SEN recognized by the Education Bureau (EDB) include:
Who could help?
Thankfully, the assistance provided by the local government is gradually increasing, aiding 62 special schools as of September 2021.
If you suspect your kid might need special educational support, you should start by getting the insights from:
More social support available on this Social Resources Guide, organised by the government.
Knowledge is key. Navigating through an unknown challenge is much more scary compared to a situation when you are well-informed. More and more educational content and guides come in handy online nowadays ( just like this blog!) Information comes in many other forms as well. Books, podcasts, videos - just start by a simple Google search to make sure you are going in the right direction.
Once you are more educated on the topic, you can consider joining professional parent-child training outside. Be it either a psychology course, an education training or even a workshop. Talk to the insiders to verify what you have learnt by yourself and get expert advice.
This not only equips you with extra knowledge, but also a great way to connect and network with like-minded people that might be walking the same path. Just by knowing that you are not alone, makes things much easier already. Never underestimate the power for emotional support when it comes to parenting. Try your best to build or join a parents supporting community - learn and advance together as a SEN parent!
Despite their unique needs, SEN kids are still kids. For children, playing is central to learning in a therapeutic way. It is beneficial in their physical, socio-emotional and communication development. Avoid being overprotective and shield them because of your child’s needs. Let the kid spread his or her wings and fly.
Go out and seek for extra-curricular activities that are suitable for your kid’s condition and age group. Look more into those that have a teamwork nature or an exercise element if possible (Make sure that your kid can handle the physical requirement for this case.) These help your child practise skills like listening, sharing, cooperating, waiting and taking turns. And similar to parents,
Let them learn, have fun and grow stronger at the same time!
Recommended Class: Speak Well as a Storyteller: Picture Books Reading
It is easy to neglect your own needs while you are focusing on your beloved child. Always bear in mind that your own physical and mental health are as important as your kid’s too. After all, the caretaker's own condition is the foundation of the assistance provided to the child.
Being a parent is hard enough. Being the parent of a SEN child is extra hard. Taking care of yourself in every possible aspect: physical exercise, nutrition, emotional outlets and personal relationships. It is amazing how often something minor seeming could become the key to wellness and relieve stress. Develop self-care rituals and habits to tune into and pamper your inner self a bit. It could be just a sum of tiny things that make you happy and feel valued - be it a coffee in the morning, 20 mins of journaling or late-night stretching. Find out what works for you.
Just as importantly, dedicate some of your energy and time to your spouse. Do not let your love for your SEN child lead to a marriage discord. You must not lose sight of your marriage itself and let it become a casualty of strain. Start by creating space for the relationship - arranging date nights, talking things through. Experts have suggested that SEN parents devote at least 20 minutes per day for each other but not around the child.
Recommended Class: Positive Parenting
Raising a SEN child is a lifelong marathon - we all know that. Turn to for every bit of support in every way you could and make sure you care for yourself equally.
Wish to find out more parenting tips? Want your kids to acquire different skills and knowledge when staying at home? Check out ILK Learning’s Course Catalogue to find THE course for your kids! Feel free to reach out for more information on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram! We look forward to seeing your messages!
As parents, most want their children to fall in love with learning and excel among their peers.
How to adjust a child's mentality to make him or her learn spontaneously and curate a love for learning?
ILK Learning introduces 4 tips to help your children fall in love with learning naturally, instead of forcing them to.
Everyone's learning preferences are different. Parents can spend more time observing their children's learning habits, especially in the following aspects:
In addition, the time of study is also very important. Find out the time slot when the child is more energetic and could concentrate the best. The most basic concept is to distinguish between a "morning person " and "a night owl". Be aware of whether your child will be more energetic in the morning or the evening! Often parents would prefer their children to go to bed early and rise early, but studies have shown that chronotype is largely determined by genetics, and it also affects children's emotional performance.
One of the most influential learning strategies is "distributed practice" - in addition to completing daily homework, try arranging the learning period of the same subject at different times of the week. It would be most ideal if the child would touch on every academic subject within a week. For example, he or she can spend 15 minutes reviewing English grammar everyday, and then finish a few additional Mathematics problems. After a week, the overall learning hours of children may still be similar, but they are exposed to all subjects in a short period.
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Are you still asking your children to sit at the desk obediently and study quietly with the textbooks every day after school?
Let's think from children's perspectives: Every day from morning to afternoon in class, they are all required to sit in a dreadful classroom and absorb knowledge from books. Similar to adults at work - if they continue this way of learning at home or in a tutorial class, their "working hours" will be longer than any of us at work!
Be creative and discover more interesting ways of learning! You can experiment with multiple learning methods with your children, such as mini-games, concept maps/mind maps, quizzes, and even music, to make learning extra fun.
Take my personal experience as an example. As a liberal arts student, I often need to memorize course content. Among all of the subjects, revising for History is the most terrifying. Before an important exam, I sat at my desk alone with pressure piling up. I turned to my stuffed animals on the bed and "educated" them about the complicated relationship between the United States and Russia during the Cold War. I was surprised that the method of "giving a lesson" turned out to be extremely effective. This learning method not only helps with memorizing. Students can also easily discover the parts they have missed or are not familiar with in the process of explanation, meanwhile adding some fun to the dull learning time.
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In a highly competitive society like Hong Kong, most parents have a strong comparative mentality. When faced with what a child does, everyone often judges it according to social standards and the eyes of others, rather than against the child’s unique personality and needs. This is called "reference standard" in theory, but it secretly hinders many children's learning process or affects their emotional management because of scolding.
As the saying goes: "Nobody is perfect." What's more is that learning from mistakes is, in fact, the most efficient way to learn! Making mistakes will reveal your child’s weaknesses in learning, allowing improvement accordingly. Moreover, from experience, the lessons after making a mistake are the best reminders to avoid future mistakes!
Therefore, the next time your child makes a mistake, instead of scolding them right away, you should discuss the mistake with them and encourage them so that failure could turn into the foundation of success!
To break the cycle of normal, dull studying, parents should give children more opportunities to utilize their knowledge. Look for teaching materials and "tests" in everyday life, so that they can see the relationship between learning and themselves.
Is the child studying geography recently? Why not go for a parent-child outing, have some fresh air and check out the magical landscape of Hong Kong!
Does your child struggle with arithmetics? After class, go to the supermarket as a family and calculate the total spend according to the unit price. Let him or her use Mathematics skills to be a shopping assistant! After returning home, ask your children to help prepare cooking ingredients with knowledge of measurement units.
Finding reciting English words challenging? Parents can play English songs and hum with their children. Reading a storybook in English before going to bed helps to improve sleep quality and facilitates learning as well!
If your children are more mature and the subjects get more complicated after being promoted to secondary school, you can try to link learning to their daily surroundings.
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Only after children have experienced the joy of learning, can they have a chance to truly fall in love with it. Parents can play the role of guidance and inspiration to help children develop an interest in learning.
Related Blog: The 10 Best Ways to Boost your Child’s IQ
Wish to find out more parenting tips? Want your kids to acquire different skills and knowledge when staying at home? Check out ILK Learning’s Course Catalog to find THE course for your kids! Feel free to reach out for more information on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram! We look forward to seeing your messages!
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