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Chris Leach, long-standing Autism East Midlands I.T Teacher at our Sutherland House School, shares his experience of delivering home learning to Rohan, a student who is unable to access our school for now. 

Since lockdown measures were introduced, staff from our Sutherland House School have had to make changes to their usual teaching routines to support all our students during the current pandemic.

Gail and I, both long-standing Autism East Midlands staff members at the school, came together to provide activities for Rohan, a student who is unable to attend our school due to Covid-19 developments, to support his home learning via Zoom.

Our online sessions for Rohan started with singing his favourite songs, reading stories, counting and most of all having fun! As time went by, new ideas were introduced which included a surprise dinosaur hunt that I and Gail took Rohan and his family on via Zoom!

The session started with an action game, where Rohan and his family had to go through the long grass – swishy, swishy and then walk through the rain and puddles – drip, drip, splash. On their adventure, they discovered a dinosaur singing, waiting on a screen courtesy of YouTube and as they turned around, they found 10 dinosaur toys ready for a counting activity.

All these dinosaurs reminded the whole family of a visit they had made to Knebworth Dinosaur Trail, to which they shared family photos of that day after the session.

A quote from Rohan’s family:

“It’s been amazing, Rohan has really started to enjoy this and now looks forward to doing this every day. It helps him to get through this difficult time until he is back at school. It’s a great way for students and staff to keep in touch and continue to do their teaching and keep communication going and routines positive.” 

The question was, where can we go next?

Since then, there has been no stopping us – a visit to a farm complete with a tractor, a teddy bear’s picnic with real food, a trip to the seaside with a boat ride, the wonderful story of the hungry caterpillar and most recently a steam train journey.

The interactive teaching sets are built by myself in my living room and presented by both me and Gail through Zoom, sessions normally grow to at least half an hour each day. Rohan’s participation and enjoyment are clear to see, and these teaching sessions have become a very important part of his day which he shares with his family.

Autism East Midlands decided to take part in the 2.6 Challenge, an initiative to support UK Charities during this difficult time as a result of the current pandemic. Rohan and his family were keen to help support Autism East Midlands, so they decided to incorporate the 2.6 Challenge initiative into Rohan’s home learning sessions to raise money for Autism East Midlands. Rohan’s unique 2.6 Challenge was to receive 26 minutes of home learning each day to raise and hopefully beat his £260 target.

A quote from Rohan:

“At the moment, I cannot go to school and so every day I am completing my home learning on the internet with Chris and Gail. We go on a dinosaur hunt, a trip to the farm, a ride on a boat, a picnic and enjoy stories like the hungry caterpillar. I love hearing the stories, singing and signing, doing yoga and using apps and games too. I want to raise £260 so please donate what you can. Thank you.”

Little did Rohan know; his fundraising campaign would capture so many hearts and the donations came flooding in. In less than a week, £940 had been donated, smashing the original goal of £260. Rohan has now raised over £1,000 for Autism East Midlands and has been rewarded a Fundraising Certificate from JustGiving!

Gail and I are both longstanding members of the School staff, both having worked there for more than 20 years. Both I and Gail have thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful experience to provide learning in an alternative manner. We have both enjoyed working with Rohan and his family and getting to know them all during these unprecedented circumstances.

Take a look through the gallery below to see all of Rohan’s adventures he’s experienced through his home learning!