I need to sort out which children would benefit from which interventions. Some children seem to sail through school without needing any extra support but others really struggle and need some of those interventions.
One problem is that when they are out getting the specialised, personalised support that they so desperately need they are missing the learning in class with their class teacher so that when they return they find life even more difficult. It is a fine balancing act.
Let’s consider Johnny – Johnny is going into year 3 and is struggling. An outside agency has been and assessed him and pointed out that he has a significant auditory and visual memory weakness.
I appreciate that if Johnny doesn’t go and do his intervention to help improve his auditory and visual memory that he will find life tricky in class but when he returns to class after a 20-minute break to work on his memory he has
- Forgotten what was happening in class
- Missed what the teacher was teaching
- Run out of time to complete the task in his book
Being Johnny not only does he have memory difficulties he also struggles with his phonics (can’t remember which letters make which sounds?) which has affected his reading and also his fine motor skills are definitely a long way behind age-related expectations. These difficulties (and his home problems) have obviously affected Johnny’s emotional state and he has no friends and will kick off regularly so ELSA or Draw and Talk would probably be of benefit too. Johnny has always struggled with his speech and the nice people at SALT have sent us a short program for us to carry out.
So I happily (in my world where money is no object, specialist assistance is to hand and fitting Johnny into the timetable is no problem) offer Johnny
- Three 20 minute sessions a week on a memory program
- Three 10 minute sessions on a specialist phonics program
- Five 5 minute sessions on fine motor skills
- One 40 minute Draw and Talk session
- Two 15 minute SALT sessions
This adds up to 185 minutes a week, over 3 hours of specialist programs, all of which he needs. This is over 3 hours out of class, 14 interruptions to his train of thought, 14 times trying to slot back into his learning, 14 times he is disrupting the class by returning and not knowing what he is doing…
So one of my tasks before going back to school is working out which of these interventions is the most important for Johnny, which will have the most impact and/or which will cause the least harm if he does not have them. Are there any that could be combined? Can they be taught as part of normal classroom practice?
Johnny is fairly typical of many of the children within the school, some of whom also have external agencies coming in to work on their problems due to domestic violence or parental alcohol problems.
I appreciate that this is part of my job, I am responsible for organising the interventions for Johnny and the other children who also require this sort of help. Obviously, I also don’t have an unlimited budget or unlimited specially trained TAs or an unlimited amount of time so everything has to be a bit of a compromise. It will certainly give me something to mull over and play around with before we return to school.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by Jill Turner and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
You can read further posts by Jill by clicking here