Choosing the right school - parents tips and hints!

One area of concern for parents is education.  Finding a mainstream school (where appropriate), that is inclusive and proactive in addressing the needs of a visually impaired (VI) child requires thought and many things are considered.

 

Is the school small and easy to navigate and is there any control of traffic at the gate?  Are there lots of steps or are the corridors bursting at the seams?

Will a watchful eye be keep on them at lunchtime, especially when they are small?  Who will clean the yoghurt off their glasses if they have a mishap? 

 

The school website is often where parents go to when choosing a school.  They not only want to see the school results, but the special needs policy and the name of the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator).

 

Lunchtimes can be very challenging. Parents worry about whether they have integrated well, if can they find their friends or do they get lost in a sea of uniforms that have no distinguishing features?  Could you suggest a meeting point or buddies until a routine is established?

 

Visually impaired children can tire more easily through the effort and concentration required to glean the information that they need. If a size of font has been recommended, it is important this is prepared, as although the child may see smaller print, a larger size may prevent strain, tiredness and even headaches.  However, A3 pages instead of A4, make students stand out from others and are very cumbersome.  Try lifting the school bag to feel how heavy these large print resources are to carry from room to room or back and forth to school daily!

 

Have you thought about the lighting in your room?  Is there a lot of glare? This makes it more difficult for many VI children.  Do you know that for some lower lighting is actually preferred? Find out what is best for the child in your class.  Recommendations may have been made by the Vision Support Teacher but did this filter down to you and was it only by word of mouth?

 

When their work is marked what pen is used and can they see the writing? Contrast is very important.  Are they getting a good quality print or are they struggling with an enlarged photocopy of a faded sheet that should have been recycled years ago? 

 

Where they sit also needs consideration.  Being at the front of the class may be as much about hearing everything, rather than seeing more.  Make best use of their other senses.  Give them the opportunity to have a closer look to see things being demonstrated and even hold things when appropriate.  Is your room an obstacle course with bags to manoeuvre or trolleys to negotiate? Are they expected to share books when others forget theirs? 

 

 

Attendance after school clubs or extracurricular activities, amongst other things, help VI children make friends. Dancing may be every young girl’s dream, but is the front of the stage the best place for her?  Is mum watching with baited breathe as her daughter dances on stage hoping that she’ll stay on stage? All staff need to be kept up to speed with the requirements and possible difficulties with systems in place to ensure that when staff change, new staff are informed

 

As parents you attend the clinics and will have an understanding about the limitations of your child’s vision. Talk to the teacher and let them know your concerns. 

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