Help your visually impaired child learn at home

All children learn differently. Some may be relishing being home and doing work set for them by schools, however some children may need to be motivated and inspired in different ways.
Rachel, our Children and Young People's Enablement Officer and qualified teacher, discusses lots of different ways that children can learn without even knowing they are learning!

If you are struggling to get your visually impaired young person to sit down and formally learn, fear not as there is so much learning to be done through play, crafts and games! Learning doesn’t have to be just maths and English and sitting at a desk writing. Have a browse through my suggestions below.

1. Create your own shop

A brilliant way to entertain the children is to make learning come to life. Keep hold of all your empty tins, boxes, bottles and household waste that is safe to keep. Get the children to guess how much products cost and then find out by searching shops online. Create price labels for each of the products, then set them up like a real shop.

If you have spare change, get the children to pay you with real money. Depending on age, vary the shop by asking them to tell you how much change they need, making the amounts of money in different ways, creating deals, such as 50% off. For younger children, make the products smaller amounts, such as 7p and 3p to practise number bonds. Why not give our Tuck Shop video a watch for some fun inspiration to let your child learn at home.

2. Have a ‘why?’ tub!

My own children must ask me around 100 questions an hour! Each time they ask me a question now, I get them to write it down and put it in a jar. We then take out one of the questions and do some research on it to find out the answer.

My daughter’s question of the day last week was ‘How do astronauts eat in space?’ We loved finding the answer as a family. We watched videos, found a space book in the house and went on the internet. My daughter then asked to make a little booklet with her answers in. If I had asked her to do me some writing about it, she probably would have resisted, but because it was her idea, she did it without prompting!

3. Make use of amazing apps, virtual tours, websites and videos

While I absolutely agree that screen time should be limited, it does have its place in learning. There are so many good apps, games, videos and content online that it would be a real shame not to use them.

Why not check out CBeebies, for science Operation Ouch helps to learn all about the human body, or Horrible Histories to learn about different periods in history. Lots of learning apps are now free to use for trial periods. Make use of what is out there, but set time limits if you are concerned about time spent on computers.

4. Bake, bake and bake some more!

Baking can teach children so much! It is an ideal and fun way for children to develop lots of skills in maths, design technology, science and even English. Finding recipes, adapting ingredients to see what happens, estimating by looking or feeling how heavy an object is, developing knife skills, learning about temperature…the list is endless.

You could even create your own video to share on the Henshaws Facebook Group or on a Zoom chat with your friends so that they can have a go themselves. Get family in your house to taste it and write reviews. There is so much potential when baking and cooking. Children will learn so much without even knowing.

5. Let them be the teacher!

Children love to be in charge. Let them set up a ‘classroom’ to teach you something new.

Ask them to tell you something that they are good at and tell them you would love to be able to do it. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting on the floor being told what to do!

6. Make up stories and get the whole family involved

The first person starts by telling the first line of a story. Go around the circle and each player adds a line of their own. Stories can end up being funny or silly, depending what each player adds.

For younger children, you could re-tell a well-known story.

7. Play board games

Dig out those board games that you’ve been meaning to play for ages! Children and young people of all ages can join in with playing games.

If there’s nothing there that you fancy, why not make your own? This would be great for art skills, design and technology, instruction writing skills, and speaking and listening skills (explaining the rules). You could also have themed games, showing off history, science or geography skills.

8. Make your own quiz

Who doesn’t love a quiz! Give topics to members of the family and get them to write their own quiz questions. With fabulous apps, such as Houseparty, why not get friends and family playing the quiz, too! Make it even more fun by offering rewards and prizes for the winner.

We’ve been running quizzes during the lockdown with groups of young people using the Microsoft Teams video conferencing tool – with prizes being posted to the winners!

Image shows young girl with eyes closed, holding a lamb in her hands

9. I hear with my little ear

Particularly for younger children, this can be a great way to practise phonics and initial sounds in words. It’s just like I spy with my little eye, except it’s sounds you can hear!

Why not check out all our games for engaging the senses in this blog that we wrote earlier in the lockdown.

10. Card games

A simple deck of traditional cards can yield countless maths games for children at varying skill levels. Every game offers the flexibility to make the play easier, harder, or more complex – you get to decide!

You could use jumbo-sized playing cards or adapt them for braille users for some fun learning at home!

Here is a good link featuring lots of different card games for you to try.

11. Memory games

This type of game requires no resources at all! This game relies on memory alone. Games such as ‘I went to the shop and I bought’ can be great fun and brilliant for developing working memory. See how far through the alphabet you can get!

Here is a good link to a website with lots of memory games to try out.

12. Clapping games

Start off with a simple, short clapping rhythm, which the next player must copy. Keep adding on extra and see how long you can make the rhythm!

13. Simon says…

A great game for the younger children to play and learn at home. Keeping physically active is important while staying at home. Vary the difficulty of the actions for the whole family to join in.

14. Something beginning with A-Z

A great game to develop quick thinking, listening and turn taking.

15. Make or use playdough or salt dough

Playdough and salt dough are so versatile! Practise making numbers and letters, make 3D shapes, recreate well known buildings, learn fractions, times tables and division.

You could even add smells and textures and, when you’re done, squash it up and use it again!

Here is a good link for playdough and salt dough activity ideas.

Children learning at home by cooking

16. A simple cardboard box (yes, really!)

Give your child a cardboard box and watch their imagination come to life. Let them paint it, decorate it or just play in it! They will transform that box into something spectacular. A visit to the moon in a rocket, on safari in a jeep or maybe even a rollercoaster!

17. Nature in your garden

If you are lucky enough to be able to go in a garden or go for a walk, children can get so much out of nature. Outdoor learning and forest schools are popular at the moment, due to the many possible learning activities.

Children have a natural curiosity for nature and tend to ask lots of questions. They could make food chains in chalk on the patio, consider habitats in their garden or field, or even help out with the gardening.

Why not check out our ‘Fun Activities for Children‘ video for how to make a sensory garden!

18. Talent shows based on a new skill you’ve learned

Why not challenge yourselves to all learn a new skill? Have you always wanted to learn a new language, or have a go at writing poetry – well now is your chance!

Each member of the family can learn something new and then have a talent contest where you present a new skill to the rest of the family. This is brilliant for so many areas of the curriculum and a fun way to learn at home!

We hope you give some of our suggestions a go to give your child a chance to learn at home whilst having fun!Our staff are still available to talk to over the telephone, and even by video call in some cases, if you need to talk to a member of our Children and Young People’s team. Please give us a ring on 0300 222 5555 or drop us an email to info@henshaws.org.uk to find out more.

If you found this blog interesting, why not check these blogs out too:

A young person’s guide to visually impaired bloggers and YouTubers

Mindfulness for children with a visual impairment or additional support needs

Keeping children with sight loss active at home

12 tips for keeping your visually impaired child entertained and educated at home

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Sarah
Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.