How to help your SEN child prepare for GCSEs

We are delighted to welcome a new member to our team! Covid and lockdowns have had a huge impact on the employment prospects for many young people. So, when we received a call from Carys we jumped at the chance to give her the opportunity to enhance her portfolio and benefit our blog by using her own personal experience of special educational needs and education. Here's what she had to say about preparing for GCSEs as an SEN student.

My name is Carys Gwilym and I have recently graduated with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. As a student on the autistic spectrum, I have struggled greatly with the conventional schooling system. I even educated myself from home for an entire year of high school, just to try and keep my head above the water. This is why I am a huge supporter of Oaka Books, and I believe that they are a wonderful turning point for students like myself, to enhance both confidence and learning.

This year has been a learning curve for us all. It was the year of sanitizing and mask-wearing; the year of working from home and staying in. Our bedrooms became our offices, our homes became our schools, and perhaps the strangest turn of events- parents became teachers.

Despite the rising popularity of home-education (the rates of home-schooling having grown by forty percent in the last three years), this was entirely unknown territory for the vast majority of UK households.

So it was understandable that most parents were feeling overwhelmed with the newfound responsibility of being their child's primary educator, especially if they had impending GCSE's to prepare for.

For both parents and children, learning a school’s syllabus, revising, or preparing for an exam can feel like climbing a mountain blind.

The preparation for one's GCSE's is always going to feel overwhelming, but the students of 2020 have arguably had it the hardest. Not only have they had to go through the usual stress of revision but in an entirely different climate. With families trapped within their households and schools closed, students were feeling both frustrated and anxious about the exams and how it might impact their future. As a parent, you'll do anything to support your child; seeing them struggle is hard enough, let alone when you feel as though there’s nothing you can do to help them.

These were some of the most frequently asked questions by parents in regard to schooling their child from home in lockdown:

  • "How do I make learning fun and engaging?"
  • "How do I find the balance between being strict and compassionate?"
  • "What am I supposed to do if I don't understand the learning materials myself?" 

Standard GCSE revision books tend to be filled with dense, overwhelming essays of information that can be hard to absorb. If you're struggling to comprehend what you're reading, you lose confidence, and when you lose confidence, your ability to learn is limited. This is how easily that vicious circle can spiral, when faced with too much information at one time:

That anxiety can force any child preparing for a GCSE exam into a fixed, defeated mindset. The relationship between confidence and learning is far more important than you might think.

Oaka Books provide everything you need to know in simple, manageable steps, for parents, teachers, and students alike.

Oaka Books were originally created to aid the teaching of children with learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and so on. The founder, Bambi Gardner, understands this better than anyone – her daughter having Dyslexia and finding that the atypical revision books were an ineffective way for her to learn. This is where Oaka Books fill a broad gap in the educational market, suited for children who might struggle with the format of typical revision.

I myself went through secondary school without additional support for my educational needs, having previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Dyspraxia. It can be extremely isolating when you feel that you are the only person who isn’t able to keep up with the learning-material, therefore this struggle is internalized by most young students, likely to believe that they are ‘not good enough’ and too embarrassed to vocalize their struggle in front of a classroom.

Too often students with learning difficulties will try and swim along the same stream as the norm, even though it feels like they are drowning in the process. This is where Oaka Books can really be a lifesaver – or rather, grade-saver. If I had had access to Oaka Books during my education, particularly in the leadup to GCSE exams, I would have gained my confidence far sooner, and as we have already discussed – self-confidence is the key to both progression and successful learning.

Using Oaka Books is the easiest way to provide your child with a more approachable learning platform. It’s open and engaging for all – whether your child has Dyslexia (or any learning disability) or they just want to try a fresh approach to learning.

Oaka provides a growing range of GCSE Science revision books. Each booklet is packed with colorful, engaging bites of information that are designed for dyslexics, but effective for everyone. It’s filled with helpful revision tips for any student in the leadup to those all-important GCSE exams.

Home-learning is essential. Whether it’s under this year’s circumstances, with the bulk of children’s lessons being taught from home, or the additional revision you complete out-side of school. Oaka Books are the perfect utensil for anyone wanting to make home-learning easy and effective, so they can enter their GCSE exams positively confident.