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Breakfast and after-school clubs

Photo: Breakfast and after-school clubs help busy parents and offer children an opportunity to try something new.

Lots of schools offer support for working or busy parents by looking after children at breakfast or in after-school clubs. These clubs allow your child to take part in activities outside of normal school hours when you need to work or have appointments. They usually involve sports, crafts, hobbies and other activities.

Your child’s school may have their own clubs. Any non-school clubs that look after four-to-eight-year-olds must be registered with Ofsted and usually allow children to attend until they’re 12 years old.

As a parent you want to make sure your child feels comfortable and safe whilst attending these clubs. Joining a new club can feel daunting but there are lots of ways to make sure your child feels included and has a positive experience.

Alison, mum to Adalaide (5) who is profoundly deaf, explains her top tip for after-school clubs.

“I’d maybe stay with your child for a couple of meetings and when they are happy, step back and let the child excel. That was my biggest challenge as a parent, having to step back and allow Adalaide to do things by herself but I’ve learnt she can do it.”

Meet new teachers or leaders

Meet with the teachers or leaders prior to your child joining so they understand of your child’s needs. It also means you can advise them on any adjustments needed when it comes to communication, group sizes and creating good listening conditions.

You may already know the teachers involved if the club is run by your child’s school. It’s important to acknowledge that this is a unique environment, with new people and different activities and rules. Your child may need slightly different support and their teacher must be aware of this.

If your child uses sign language to communicate, discuss this with the teacher or leader so they can make sure a communication support worker is present whilst your child attends.

We provide information, resources and training to organisations, which focuses on the small and simple steps organisations can take in order to be deaf-friendly. For more information contact us at [email protected].

Using existing support plans

If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, discuss what additional support needs to be in place whilst they’re at breakfast or after-school clubs with the club leader. They should be able to get the same support they have in the classroom.

It’s a good idea to talk to the teacher or leader about your child’s personal profile or passport too. Find out what activities the club offers and consider if your child needs to create a new one or if you can share an existing one from school.

Talk about technology with leaders

If your child has a radio aid, ask the tutor to wear it whilst they are leading the session. Show the leaders how your child’s equipment works, what signal shows the batteries may be running out. Make sure your child has some spare batteries or give some to the leaders.

Adapting activities

If any activities involve music, tell the leader when your child can or can’t hear the music. They may need to change hearing aid settings to hear or use visual gestures for games like musical statues.

You can also speak to the staff about introducing fingerspelling activities for the group. This is a great way for all children to learn, raise deaf awareness and support your child.

Breakfast and after school clubs often involve lots of different activities. You can share our top tips on how to make a wide range of activities deaf-friendly with the teachers running the club.

Make sure the leader knows to explain what is happening next so your child knows what they are expected to be doing. Where possible, leaders need to make activities and instructions visual. Ask staff to use actions and gestures. This can help your child, especially if they’re feeling fatigued.

Melissa is mum to Thomas (12), who is profoundly deaf.

“The local sensory support team were brilliant and provided good input at Thomas’s school. I’d encourage other parents to give clubs and providers information about supporting your child and also to look into organising support from other services like sensory support that can help providers of extracurricular activities."

Ask about emergency procedures

Make sure the leader tells you about any emergency procedures that are in place and how they will support your deaf child. For example, if there’s a fire the leader needs to be able to get your child’s attention to make sure they evacuate safely.

Check-in with your child

Ask your child how they’re getting on at the club, if they’re enjoying it or if there is anything they want changed. You can then discuss solutions to any problems your child raises with the club leader.

It’s also important to remind the teacher or leader that after school, your child may feel fatigued due to concentrating all day. They may be quiet or prefer to engage in a smaller group. 

To help your child feel comfortable, it’s useful for the teachers or leaders to be on the lookout to see if they’re struggling. For example, your child might be finding it difficult to follow conversations if they’re in a loud group or a large echoey room.

You can encourage your child to feel confident to say when they don’t understand something, want space or need something repeated.