This is the second part of a guest blog by Marie Smith. Click here for the first part. Or you can view her courses, Developing a SEND Friendly Environment and Supporting Children with SEND.
I finished last time by encouraging staff to look at the specific area of difficulty for each individual child…
Once you have a handle on where a child is functioning, then track back to the appropriate developmental stage and start to choose small teachable steps to work on. Once you have chosen your small teachable steps work on them consistently and regularly. Teach the child directly, support them to practise the skills as they learn them and only once they can achieve them independently without your support are they ready to move on. Repeating this with each small developmental step in the areas you’ve identified will lead to real and independent progress.
The key principle once you have identified your starting point is scaffolding learning e.g. breaking down what you want the child to learn into small achievable and observable steps. If your long term aim is for a child to make marks independently think about all of the skills needed before this can happen, start at the first developmental step and work through each step to build towards the long term goal. Once the child has all the skills needed for mark making in place you will see it develop.
Sometimes it is tricky to pin down these small steps and track back far enough to reach your starting point. The Early Support Materials Developmental Journal 2013 is a great resource designed to support families and practitioners with this. It breaks down all areas of learning into small teachable steps which build on from one another without age bandings and can be really helpful in planning your support. Although the journal is no longer being printed it is available to download online from a number of sites including the Council for disabled children https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/early-years-developmental-journal. It is a large document but well worth having in your armoury.
The last thing is to say how important it is to work closely with the families of children with SEND. A joined up approach shared between a setting and home where successes and concerns are shared and families have the opportunity to be part of their child’s development always leads to greater success. Sometimes we can be worried about sharing concerns with families as it is difficult to share what may be considered bad news but I know from experience that as long as information is honestly and sensitively in a relationship built on mutual respect it will be supportive in the long term. In all areas of life teamwork and working together brings greater success.
About the author: Marie Smith