Femi Mascoll, Special Needs Education Teacher, Barbados

Femi, you're a home-school and special needs education teacher in Barbados. Tell us about your job: what does a day in your life look like?

To say that my days are quite hectic is an understatement. My students and I normally begin our day with something fun like story-telling or animated videos. I am a very hands-on teacher so this means teaching my lessons while sitting on the floor, painting along with the kids or outdoors playing hop-scotch to help them relax.Some days are challenging. For example, some special needs children can be a bit emotional so there are times when my day is spent using calming techniques and other methods to help boost their confidence.

What kinds of educational needs fall under the 'special needs' bracket?

While I am trained in a variety of special needs, my primary focus is Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and dyslexia. (Sometimes these conditions manifest together)

Tell us about home-schooling: is it becoming more popular, and what do parents need to think about if they're considering it?

Home-schooling is definitely becoming more popular since I first began seven years ago. Many parents are becoming more aware of the challenges of the average public-school classroom such as over-crowding, inadequate resources and not enough special needs teachers.

Before a parent decides to home-school, he or she must first seek permission from the Ministry of Education. The parent should consult with a tutor to ensure that a well-rounded timetable is developed. It’s also very important that the parent actively seeks extra-curricular activities for the child so as to give the child opportunities to interact and socialise with other children of the same age.

What are some of the challenges specific to expats who are looking for home-schooling and special education options abroad?

One challenge may be finding a trained tutor who can work full-time with the child. I would advise that the parents carefully screen and interview potential tutors to assess their ability to work with a special-needs child.

Do the public schools in Barbados have facilities for special educational needs?

Some public schools have special-needs facilities, not all. However, many of these special-needs units as they are called, tend to be under-staffed and under-funded. We really need more support from our government in funding special needs education in Barbados.

If you could give one piece of advice to parents who are moving to Barbados, what would it be?

Its very important to take some time to research the type of treatment the child needs. For example, the child may need a special needs teacher, but he or she may also need to see a speech therapist or an occupational therapist as well. So, it’s a good idea for the parent to approach special needs as a team approach rather than putting the focus on one individual.

Are you an expat yourself? What first prompted you to move abroad?

I’m not an expat. While I was born in Bermuda, I have lived here almost my whole life.

Finally, when you're not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my daughter, Zara, and my husband, Dwayne. I am also very passionate about fitness and breaking a sweat.

You can find out more about the services Femi offers and how she can help your family by emailing her on femi.mascoll@gmail.com