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Top Tips for parents

Tower Road Academy

How to help a child with special educational needs with home learning

Top Tips


Area of need

What to try

Where to find help


  • Paired Reading – Read a school-reading book at the same time as your child but a little bit quicker, so that you’re saying the word just before them.  This will help to build confidence.
  • Flashcards of common words – write words on small cards and hold them up for your child to read.  Don’t have more than 6.  Keep re-reading them.  This is called ‘over-learning’.  Keep doing this activity throughout the day for short bursts of time.
  • Snap with common words – like above, but make two of each word.  Have a set of words each and shuffle them.  Take it in turns to lay a word down face up.  If the words are the same then shout ‘snap’.
  • Memory game – make two flashcards for each common word.  Lay all the words face down in rows.  Take it in turn to pick up two random words.  Look at them.  If they are the same, keep the pair of words and keep going until they don’t match.  When you put the words back down, try to remember where they are so that you can find two matching words next time.
  • Listen to audio books
  • Use the Nessy Learning Programme if you have been given access to it from home

Spelling and Writing

  • Alphabet Arc – use magnetic letters or cut out letters.  Ask your child to lay them out in alphabetical order in an arc, like a rainbow.  Show your child a flashcard and then cover it up.  Ask your child to find the letters from the arc which spell the word.  Move the letters down to spell the word.
  • Use the Nessy Learning Programme if you have been given access to it from home
  • Vocabulary book – make lists of useful topic words.  Group words together in categories.  Write the word, what it means and draw or cut and stick a picture as a visual clue.
  • Squeezy bottle writing – fill up a plastic bottle with water and then squirt out the water making ‘water writing’.


  • Letter sound hunt – find things around the house that begin with the same letter sound or have the same ending.  E.g. things that begin with ‘p’ or end with ‘in’
  • Write lots of words on small cards, targeting a particular letter sound plus some others to ‘fool’ your child.  Find all the words that start or end with the same sound.


  • Times Tables Rockstars

Handwriting/fine motor skills

  • Foam letters – squirt shaving cream or make foam onto a tray.  Use a finger to write and form letters and shapes
  • Use chalks, felt tips etc. to form letters of all shapes and sizes
  • Make letters out of playdough
  • Thread string through some pasta.

General strategies

  • Use a multi-sensory approach – make everything practical and learn through doing
  • Give visual prompts – use pictures and drawings to aid understanding
  • Break learning down into smaller steps/chunks and provide movement breaks
  • Use start and finish boxes – put all the work into a start box and move it into the finish box once complete.  This will make the work seem more manageable
  • Make a visual timetable of the day to help with routine
  • Use technology – it’s ok to do that
  • Use lots of praise
  • Give instructions one step at a time and keep language simple


Useful websites

  • BBC bitesize


  • The Oak National Academy – specialist lessons


  • Special Needs Jungle