PlaySEND's Journey: Growth, Innovation, and Inclusion

A Year of Transformation
Over the past year, PlaySEND has experienced remarkable growth and transformation. Our game-based learning programs have doubled to meet increasing demand, and we've expanded our offerings to include Spanish and Valencian, catering to a more diverse student body. Currently, 90% of our lessons are conducted in English, while the remaining 10% are in Spanish and Valencian. Our mission remains steadfast: to provide inclusive and accessible education that engages and inspires.

One of the most significant developments has been the rise in enrollment of neurotypical children. In the last six months, the number of neurotypical students has surpassed those with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Currently, 75% of our students are neurotypical, while 25% are SEN students. This shift has encouraged us to broaden our outreach and attract a wider audience across Spain and Europe. Our ability to adapt and deliver high-quality, engaging educational experiences has resonated with families seeking innovative learning solutions for their children.

Interesting Statistics

Here are some interesting statistics about PlaySEND:

Lesson Distribution:
- 80% of lessons take place in Roblox worlds.
- 18% in Minecraft.
- 2% in other virtual environments.

Student Demographics:
- SEN students: 65% ADHD, 20% ASD, others.
- Language of instruction: 90% English, 10% Spanish and Valencian.

- Our game-based learning programs have doubled in number over the past year.
- We have successfully integrated neurotypical students, now comprising the majority of our enrollment.

The Beginning: Anika, Alex, and Tim

The roots of PlaySEND trace back to a personal story of determination and innovation. Anika and Alex, our co-founders, faced a significant challenge with their son Tim, who was diagnosed with ADHD. During the coronavirus pandemic, when schools shifted to Zoom-based remote learning, Tim struggled significantly. He found it difficult to engage with the lessons and participate in social interactions via video conferencing. Frustrated by the lack of effective educational solutions, Anika and Alex decided to take matters into their own hands. They began exploring alternative methods to keep Tim engaged and learning, leading them to the idea of using immersive games as educational tools.

Overcoming Challenges

From the beginning, we faced a significant challenge: how to create learning environments that could engage children with complex attention and engagement needs. We knew that solving this problem would require innovative thinking, dedication, and a lot of trial and error. Our team dedicated countless hours to interacting with parents and children, reviewing lessons, and refining programs and methodologies. Our founders also spent a significant amount of time interviewing parents to understand their children's needs and gather valuable feedback. Their relentless efforts ensured that our educational strategies were not only effective but also tailored to the needs of each child.

Breakthrough: Integrating AI for Personalized Learning

One of our most significant breakthroughs came with the integration of artificial intelligence. By manually reviewing lessons and developing strategies alongside AI, we were able to customize our programs continuously. We currently utilize tools like ChatGPT from OpenAI, LLaMA from Meta, and Gemini from Google to gather data and refine our approach. This synergy between human expertise and advanced technology is allowing us to deliver high learning outcomes for all children, even as we continue to build and enhance our systems.

Expanding Our Reach

As our methods improved and our success stories spread, something unexpected happened – neurotypical children began enrolling in our programs in increasing numbers. Parents saw the value of our immersive, game-based learning environments and wanted the same engaging experiences for their children. Over the last six months, the number of neurotypical students surpassed those with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Currently, 75% of our students are neurotypical, while 25% are SEN students.

We observed that our initial focus on the most challenging aspects of attention retention and engagement for SEN children had prepared us exceptionally well for working with neurotypical children. The robust systems we developed made it incredibly easy for neurotypical kids to integrate into our programs. From the very first lessons, they thrived and demonstrated outstanding results.

Success Story: The Young Coder

One of our most illustrative case studies involves a young child who initially showed little interest in traditional educational methods. His parents enrolled him in PlaySEND hoping to ignite his passion for learning through a medium he loved: technology. We introduced him to a program focused on coding and game development within Minecraft. This approach not only captured his interest but also significantly improved his logical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity. His engagement levels soared, and he began excelling in subjects he previously found challenging. The integration of AI in his lessons allowed for real-time adjustments and personalized feedback, enhancing his learning experience and outcomes.

Building a Balanced Learning Environment

One of our proudest achievements has been our approach to integrating SEN children with neurotypical peers. Initially, we kept SEN children in individualized settings to help them acclimate and build confidence. Gradually, we introduced group activities, allowing them to interact with neurotypical children. This integration enhanced social skills for both groups, fostering empathy and improved social understanding. Neurotypical children developed a deeper appreciation for diversity, while SEN children learned to navigate group dynamics effectively.

Hypothesis: Mastering Complexity for Simplified Success

We hypothesize that our initial focus on addressing the needs of children with more complex attention and engagement requirements has significantly contributed to our overall success. By developing strategies to manage the most challenging aspects of attention retention, engagement, and learning for SEN children, we have created robust systems that are exceptionally effective when applied to neurotypical children. These neurotypical children, who generally have more stable attention spans, find it incredibly easy to integrate into our programs. From the very first lessons, they thrive and demonstrate outstanding results.

Our efforts to solve the toughest problems in maintaining attention, fostering engagement, and enhancing learning have made our programs highly adaptable and effective. This foundational work means that when neurotypical children join our programs, they benefit from the advanced strategies we've developed, leading to seamless integration and exceptional educational outcomes.

The Power of Hands-On Interaction and AI

A significant part of our success comes from the dedication of our team. Our founders and educators spend countless hours communicating with parents and children, meticulously reviewing lessons, and continually refining our programs and methodologies. Their hands-on approach, combined with the power of AI, ensures that our educational strategies are not only effective but also personalized to meet the unique needs of each child.

By integrating AI into our processes, even as we continue to build our AI-driven dashboard, we are able to continuously adapt and improve our programs. Our tools analyze performance data, provide real-time feedback, and suggest adjustments, allowing us to deliver tailored educational experiences that ensure high learning outcomes for all children.

Scaling with SAAS Solutions

In the 21st century and the age of AI, we understand that scaling cannot rely solely on increasing the number of professional instructors. To achieve sustainable growth, we are developing Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) solutions that enable users to independently benefit from our platform. These solutions will provide scalable, self-service options for families and educators, making our innovative educational tools and methodologies accessible to a broader audience.

Insights from the LEGO Foundation accelerator experience

A significant influence on our development towards inclusive learning and effective methodologies for SEND children has been Anika's education through the LEGO Foundation. We participated in the LEGO Accelerator, Play for All, with another project, BRAINIKA (math in Roblox). This experience provided us with invaluable knowledge, methodologies, and the opportunity to connect with other companies dedicated to the education of SEND children. We are incredibly grateful for the support and insights gained through this accelerator, which have been instrumental in shaping our approach and enhancing our educational offerings.

Today, PlaySEND stands at an exciting crossroads. We have successfully created a balanced and inclusive learning environment where every child, regardless of their unique needs, can thrive. Our ability to adapt to the needs of each child, harness the power of play, and integrate advanced technology has transformed education for many families.

We invite all those interested in this exciting and inclusive approach to learning to join us on this journey. Whether you are an investor looking to support innovative education, a professional in inclusive education eager to collaborate, or a parent seeking a fun and engaging learning experience for your child, PlaySEND offers something unique and transformative. Come partner with us, experience our methods, and help shape the future of education.

For more insights and information about our programs, visit PlaySEND.