How Creative Subjects Help SEN Children, An Interview With Tutor Jumi 

December 3, 2021

Everyone learns in different ways, especially children with special needs. They all have unique strengths and weaknesses which need to be explored, nurtured and addressed rather than ignored. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as it's been reported that only 15% of English school students receive SEN support. We understand this and hope to balance out the education gap through our thoroughly vetted and trained SEN tutors. They aim to make sure your child experiences top-quality education and fulfils their potential. SEN tuition is absolutely worthwhile, but don’t take our word for it, in this blog we have interviewed one of our expert SEN tutors.

Jumi is an experienced SEN teacher and tutor. She has  taught students with a variety of SEN needs including but not limited to Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, behavioural and emotional difficulties, Selective Mutism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and ADHD. Jumi uses creative means to tackle problems students may be facing learning at school.  She ultimately believes that developing a deeper understanding of the creative techniques used by artists, writers and poets  is key to the success and continued development of any student that she works with. 

Read our interview with Jumi below to find out more about how SEN tuition is taught using creative subjects, and why it is so effective.

Do you think that learning through creative subjects, such as art and english, can help SEN students more than learning through other subjects, like maths and science?

Absolutely, art and english are both about communication and creative expression. The lessons learnt in these subjects not only teach important life skills but also provide a catalyst for the expansion of knowledge in many other areas.

What types of students have you worked with? How did creative subjects positively affect their performance?

I have worked with a wide range of both SEN and mainstream students but it is important to note that I see each student as an individual. We all learn differently, we are motivated by different things and we have different needs and requirements.  

My job as a tutor is to find the thing that motivates students intrinsically and to teach them in a way that truly works for them. Both art and english are great subjects for delivering a very personalised learning experience. If students are given the opportunity to express themselves through creative means, it really can make all the difference.

Do you think tutoring works well for your students?

I do. Tutoring really can provide the opportunity to deliver a personalised service catered to the needs of each individual. I have taught both whole classes in schools and 1:1 on an individual basis and in my opinion, there is no match for the 1:1 experience, where the lessons can be tailored to the individual students needs. 

 How do you structure your lessons, especially online?

Some students require a regular routine and some may require a more flexible approach to learning. I find that getting students started with an easily accessible activity to start with removes most barriers to learning. Once students see that tasks set out are within their reach, they can begin to make progress.  Setting tasks with just enough challenge to encourage students to develop a deeper level of understanding really works well in most cases. This usually helps students trust that they can master more difficult concepts with time. 

I usually like to end each session with a set of summary questions, this helps to both solidify knowledge and check understanding. I then like to add in some form of positive reinforcement whilst also setting one or two targets for the following session.

Are there any stories from your tutoring experience you’d be happy to share with us? 

I recently started working with an 8 year old boy with Autism through Tutor House. When I first started working with him things were tough! He struggled to stay seated for longer than a few minutes and was running up and down the house. I found that talking to him about what he wanted to gain from his learning really seemed to motivate him. When it came to reading he told me in his own words " I want to go into the story." For him, being able to use his imagination was so important. He likes to get lost in the story and he needed space and support to be able to do so. From then on, his belief in the enjoyment of learning really helped him to focus on reading which then positively affected  his learning in other areas. I think for him, the key to making progress was in understanding the benefits of being able to read, write and communicate at a deeper level than he had previously. 

What were your inspirations for going into this field of work?

I was actually approached by a fellow student when I was at University who told me that I had a great presence and would be great working with kids. I have always been interested in both the idea of lifelong learning and the creative arts - I also studied theatre studies at college and I am very interested in human Psychology.  Teaching is somewhat of a performance to me. I like to introduce topics with an animated expression and use humour where appropriate. I think it makes it so much more interesting for both myself and the learner! I love the fact that I am always learning from the young people that I work with. It is also interesting to be able to continuously develop an understanding of the Psychology of learning though my work and to be able to genuinely make a difference in the lives of others. 

You must have experienced some challenges along the way. How did you cope?

Some of the challenges of working as a tutor is that it is highly variable and unpredictable. I work with a wide range of students who have highly different needs. I have to be very switched on so that I can quickly adapt. I need to be able to determine what motivates each student as fast as possible and to be able to build a good rapport early on. I also need to be able to discover how they like to learn and what I can do to capture their attention. What works with one student will have totally the opposite effect on another. It helps to have some background information on a child but truly, I can not know them until I actually meet them.  

What is the best part of being a tutor for you?

For me a good tutor is someone who cares about each child, not just academically but holistically. When a child is happy it is so much easier for them to learn. A good tutor should make lessons fun and engaging. This doesn't have to be a complicated matter, often it's the little things that make the difference; a smile, a special handshake, even a story that highlights something of personal interest. A good tutor must also be patient and invested in the progress of the learner.  

The best part of being a tutor is being able to see direct results from the work that I do. Improved grades, better concentration and seeing students develop the ability to confidently express themselves, I think it's so important! 

Jumi - View her profile here

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Sadiyah Zaman

Sadiyah is our Senior Content Writer who uses her diverse background in design and language to create educational content for students and tutors alike. At home if she’s not chasing after her mischievous foster cat, she’ll most likely, with a large cup of coffee in hand, be scribbling away at her next writing ideas.

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