Take Me To Neverland!

Quite literally.

Today, I decided to go on a bit of an exploration around Kirriemuir. Why not have a road trip which can also be deemed educational, right? The road trip lead me to Camera Obsura which is located in Kirriehill.

Kirriehill is a centre with a play park (Neverland), Millennium Woodlands, JM Barrie’s (the author of Peter Pan) grave, Wilkie’s Shelter and Camera Obsura. A small walk around Kirriehill and the Millennium Woodland gave me a bit of information and history about Kirriemuir.

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The walk taught me a bit about JM Barrie who was a famous playwright born in Kirriemuir and his life is very celebrated in the local community. The Camera Obsura, which was unfortunately shut in the winter months, is dedicated to Barrie and is one of only three remaining in Scotland. Barrie and his family are also buried in the graveyard at Kirriehill.

The playground “Neverland” named from the story Peter Pan, was incredible. We may have had a little play until we realised it was supposed to only be for children aged between 3 and 12 years old sadly. I could have imagined taken my primary 1’s here for outdoor learning and play.

Once I returned home, I continued on the educational and productive Saturday and started my placement file. Whilst looking at my school’s website, I read that Kirriehill is where the school take the children for outdoor learning. Therefore, I felt that that a post about Kirriehill should be included in my file to show I have been here before and in the instance that my class were to go here for outdoor learning and play then I have evidence that I am aware of the location and some of the facilities it offers.

Pictured below: the play park entrance and important health and safety (no adults, sadly).

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The Start of Another Placement

We have finally been given our third year placement schools. After having a fantastic last day at Claypotts Castle nursery, getting my third year school and nursery was a great excitement to be able to know I am going back into school so soon.

This excitement may have taken over a little bit as my desire to go and see the school quickly overcame my lack of motivation to proof read my assignment for the hundredth time. Before I knew it, I was in my car and off on a road trip to go and have a look at the area. I have driven past the signs on the dual carriage way for Kirriemuir countless times however I have never went in past and I knew nothing about the area. I knew that this was an area I need to develop my knowledge on for my placement folder. Therefore, I thought having a drive could do no harm.

I had a bit of a look around Kirriemuir itself. The setting is surrounded by the Angus Glen’s and one of the Cairngorm Mountain ranges. Kirriemuir is an absolutely gorgeous place and I can only hope that my school takes full potential of the setting they are in to develop their outdoor learning.

Just by chance on the way back to Dundee we drove through Kirriemuir town centre and there was a little Tourist Information centre which I thought may have some leaflets or information for me to further develop my knowledge of the town. The two ladies who worked in their could not have been more helpful, they allowed me to look around, take a selection of leaflets about Kirriemuir and Angus in general (as although I drive through it a lot, I did not know a lot about Angus either), and the ladies let me know that the are very accommodating to have classes come to the Tourist Information as they have a lot of resources to help. They were very excited that I had a primary 1 class as they do not often get ‘the little ones’ in to visit and it is normally just primary fours or primary sevens. This is something that I will be well aware of when I am on placement and if the children are learning about something relevant to the town that could spark a trip to the tourist centre then it would definitely be something I would suggest to the class teacher.

Overall, as my previous blog and this one has clearly shown I am so excited to get back into school. The transition project has greatly influenced my confidence and my (lack of) nerves going into this placement. It is one of the reasons I am ready to get back into school. If February could just hurry along, then that would be great!

The End of One Placement

Sadly, my time at Claypotts Castle Nursery is already over. However, it has been a truly fantastic learning experience. I have been able to have a hands on experience of working with early years children which I have not yet been able to do for more than a day. This has definitely made me feel a lot more confident now that I have my two schools for my third year placement. A few of my friends who have not been on the transition programme are slightly worried at what they are to do in the nursery and now having been into one for 8 afternoons, I feel a lot more confident and at ease at what I am expected to do in the nursery when the time comes.

Over the last two weeks, I have began to see the planning in the nursery and how lessons are taught in a play environment. After seeing the plans, the group lessons that the children have at the start and end of the afternoon all link back to the experiences and outcomes. This outcome is chosen by the group leader and they meet this in the same way a teacher would in the classroom – developing an idea that they feel would allow the children to develop to meet the criteria. There are also opportunities for the children to choose to engage in an informal lesson with one of the group leaders. This was so informal as it was through the children’s choice if they engaged in the activity that I was unaware of this happening until the second last and the last week.  On the second last week, one of the practitioners had taken children to make pictures simply using felt which was to meet the experience and outcome EXA 0-02a (Scottish Government, 2009, p.3). The children created their pictures on their felt square with pieces of felt before covering them in water and fairy liquid and rubbing this in to make the pieces stick together. I assisted the practitioner to make notes and take pictures for the children’s observation for the learning journey folders. This was a very interesting opportunity as I was able to see the different abilities that were already prevalent in the children with the language development and ability to take turns and think about others. There was huge difference in the abilities and this is something I am definitely going to keep in the back of my mind for my third year placement.

On my final week, I was asked by a practitioner to work with a group of children to create an experiment. The practitioner had read that if you inflate a balloon indoors then put the balloon outdoors due to the cold weather, it should deflate overnight and if you then take it back inside to the warmth, then the balloon should inflate again. The children and myself worked on blowing up the balloons, only one of about seven children could blow up a balloon, which i thought was pretty impressive for a 4 year old. Before taking them outside and tying them to a tree. The children all had their names on their balloons and were excited to come back tomorrow to see if the experiment had worked. Although, there is not significant learning in this I believe, developing language skills in the children such as using the word experiment and asking them what they thought would happen through closed question ‘do you think the balloon will go down outdoors or do you think the balloon will stay the same?’ is developing their hypothesising skills for science which they will return to develop further in primary school.

Overall, the whole project has been so insightful. I have learnt a lot about how the nursery works. I have been able to see what children are like from a young age and how they can learn through play. I am truly thankful to Claypotts Castle Nursery for having me every Wednesday and my three lectures running the project for this opportunity. This has given me a big boost of confidence and taking away a lot of questions and nerves for returning to a school in February for my third year placement. I would definitely recommend if the opportunity is available to the upcoming years to take it!

 

Reference:

Scottish Government (2009) Expressive Arts: Experiences and Outcomes Available at: https://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/expressive_arts_experiences_outcomes_tcm4-539863.pdf (Accessed: 09/12/16)

The Panda Room

Today was the day when it was time for the twos.

My nursery experience today took me into “The Panda Room” and an afternoon painting and getting messy with the two year olds. There were a lot of difference between being with the two year olds and being in with the three to five year olds so I thought I would reflect on today with a blog.

The first thing I noticed before the children even arrived as how friendly with main practitioner with the two year olds was. This came with two lessons. Firstly, I noticed in myself how at ease I was immediately, Mrs Q*, was easily one of the friendly practitioners I have ever had the experience of working alongside so far. Mrs Q was very welcoming, talkative and wanted to know all about my experience of teaching and being at nursery. This made me realise how much easier having/being someone like Mrs Q can make these experience of coming into a unfamiliar environment, both a new place and a new teaching experience, for a student teacher. When the children came in, Mrs Q was exactly the type of practitioner the two year olds needed. She was calm, relaxed and spoke so slowly and well pronounced that it was an easy transition for the children coming away from their parents into the nursery.

The Panda room can have up to ten children in it but there were only three girls and one boy in today which meant there were three practitioners as well as myself in with the children which meant we had a one to one basis with the children. This meant that the atmosphere in the Panda Room compared to the 3-5’s room was automatically more relaxed. There were a few differences in the Panda Room, mainly the children did not come straight into group time for registration. This could be because there are less children and therefore there isn’t a need for the register but it allowed the children to come in and just get straight into playing with no formalities such as a set group activity like in the 3-5’s room and in a primary class room. This made me realise that the two year olds are just too young to be coming into nursery to partake in formalities such as these and they are at nursery purely for the play and social interaction with other children.

One of the critical things I noticed whilst in the Panda Room was that there were huge developmental differences in the two year olds to the 3-5 year olds that I have been working with normally at nursery. Normally with the 3-5 year olds – they are able to verbally communicate and many are using their words in full sentences. However, in the Panda Room, the two year olds have very limited words. The children have observation books where any progress in their language and communication is written down, for example one of the children was able to repeat ‘bananas’ and ‘apples’ whilst playing and this was noted in her observation book. This was one of the biggest difference in the two rooms and one of the hardest for myself to get my own head around. I noticed that I had totally changed when I was working with the two year olds for the first half an hour or so. I had realised that because the children weren’t communication through words then I also went a lot more quiet. As soon as I realised this in myself, I told myself to snap out of it. Just because the two year olds have limited words does not mean that I then as a twenty year old also go quiet. I knew that I should be doing the opposite and modelling words and expressions for the children to copy and learn, therefore this is what I tried to do for the rest of the afternoon.

Another key difference I picked up on in the two year olds were just how egocentric they were. Everything was about themselves; they were reluctant to share and play together. They also took a lot longer to process things. The children took a lot longer to come to terms with me being in the nursery. However, one of the children who initially would not even let me touch them or help her put on her coat and do up her shirt sleeve. By the end of day when her mum came to collect her, she ran up to me and gave me a cuddle goodbye which was an amazing feeling that the child had accepted me and her presence in the nursery.

*I have decided not to name anyone in these blogs as I have not asked for permission from the individuals to be included in my blog.

Outdoor play in Early Years

For my second week back at nursery, I was asked to spend my afternoon outdoors. This request was met by my delight at the chance to have a look into some more learning in the outdoor particularly as this is an age that I have had no experience working outdoors with.

In the nursery there are no set lessons or plans for the children and they are free to play how they want, it was a chance to see what the children would do with their outdoor free play opportunities. Due to the fact that parents in this contemporary society are trying to protect their children as best as possible, this unfortunately means that children are not getting the opportunities to “exercise their bodies or to encounter the excitement and challenges of the outdoors. As a consequence an increasing number of children have weight problems. Current figures suggest that 22.9 per cent of four- and five-year-olds are either overweight or obese” (Dowling, 2010, p.172-3).

Whilst I was outside with the other practitioner, Mrs H, we got chatting about the limitations of outdoor play in the primary setting. Mrs H and myself discussed the fact that the children whilst in nursery had the choice to play outdoors in all weather conditions and the nursery practitioners had no choice but to be outdoors as well in all conditions. The only thing the children were told on this particular day was that they had to have a jacket on to play outside. However, on the other side of a fence, life for the children in the primary school was much different. Children were running round in the cold without jackets on but the minute the slightest bit of rain came on, the children were ushered indoors for the last ten minutes of lunch break. This is very common primary schools. It is almost as if teachers are worried of children getting cold whereas from what I can remember as a child as well as from the experience I had today, children tend to want to be outside regardless of the weather conditions. It was really important for me to see the difference between the nurseries practice and the primary stage practice.

This made me reflect on the idea of learning in the outdoors and the fact that the majority of teachers, regardless of this being a vital part of the CfE, only viewing outdoor education as a one of lesson when the weather is nice.  However, as the nursery children proved to me – they do not care what the weather is like, as long as they are having fun, enjoying themselves and getting to play, they are more than happy to be outdoors in the rain. Robertson (2014) stated weather as one of the common reasons that teachers worry about before they start outdoor learning. This should not be a worry for teachers as on my Learning from Life placement with Adventure Aberdeen there was not a single session we considered cancelling due to the weather – the students were just equipped by the centre with appropriate clothing for the activity and weather. Therefore, when teachers are planning for an outdoor education lesson, they should advise parents in advance that the class will be going outdoors and that children will need the appropriate clothing for this and remind them we are in Scotland. Teachers also need a degree of flexibility when planning for learning outdoors as Robertson (2014) suggests as the weather may not allow for one activity but this does not mean the lesson should be cancelled but simply adapted to fit with the weather

With weather, I have experienced both extremes whilst at camp and whilst on placement. As already stated on placement, the children were out in all weather conditions from sunny days in the sea to snow sand sledging. However, at camp, the as soon as it rained – in a little bit – the children’s activities were changed from normal schedule to rainy day schedule. This meant that the children were kept indoors even when it was just drizzling. You could tell from the children that this was frustrating for them as they looked forward to the activities they had selected and these were often cancelled, normally these days were back to back. In my views, if Scandinavians countries can have children out in all weathers and this clearly has an impact on their children’s wellbeing and education then we should follow the lead of Adventure Aberdeen and the Scandinavian countries and try to get our children out in all weather conditions.  In contrast to the nursery and the primary setting this is two extremes on the scale although it rather remarkably shows the same point – a little bit of rain can totally hinder the joy the children are having outdoors.

Children, in my view, should, like in the nursery, have the opportunity to have their voice heard and make decisions for themselves as to whether or not during their free play time they would like to stay outdoors in any weather, as long as they have appropriate clothing for the weather on, or if they would prefer to go inside. I understand that this is not always possible as the children need to be supervised and this would be stretching the playground assistance, there could possibly be solutions, for example the children who want to play indoors go to the games hall instead of their classrooms.

Reference

Dowling, M (2010) Young Children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development 3rd Edn. London: Sage Publications

Robertson, J. (2014) Dirty Teaching: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Outdoors Wales: Independent Thinking Press

First day at Nursery!

On Wednesday, as my previous blog post stated, I was off for my first day of nursery for part of my Transition Project at university. The nerves this morning were there a little bit but not as much as the night before.

The minute I walked into the school, I was greeted by a lovely receptionist at the front desk for the school which automatically made me feel more relaxed.  When I arrived at the nursery, they weren’t exactly expecting me. Which seems to be the issue whenever I arrive at a school so thankfully that never made me nervous at school. I was introduced to the staff at the nursery which was a team of 16 ladies for a nursery which can have 60 3-5 year olds and 10 2 year olds in their panda room. Although, they currently aren’t working at full capacity.

Immediately, this amount of children and the size of the nursery was a big change from the nursery I went to which was about half the size in both respects. I had not yet seen the size of the nursery but I was imagining it to be quite big. Much to my surprise, it was about half the size I expected however it did have a big outdoor space to play. Outdoor play is something I am hugely passionate about due to the positive impacts it makes on childhood; the statistics on how well the Scandinavian countries, from whom outdoor play holds a substantial part of their pedagogy for early years’ education; and because many of the fond memories I have of my childhood are from playing outdoors with my parents.

The afternoon in a nursery was very similar to an episode of “The Secret Life of Four Year Olds” from channel 4. There was a lot going on for the children to choose from but apart from at the beginning and the end of the session there was no structure to the day; it was all free play. When the children first come in, they are spilt into six groups of ten (when the nursery is a full capacity) to have a chance to speak with one of the nursery teachers* and to do the register amongst other things.

The group I was placed with for the beginning was consolidating what they had learnt yesterday from their visit from “Farmer Jill”. Firstly, I thought the fact that they had left this consolidating until today instead of the group time at the end of yesterdays session was a fantastic idea. This meant that the children could go away yesterday and think about what they had learnt , giving them time to process all of the information they had learnt before they had to summarise their knowledge. This was very similar to what I can imagine a structured lesson with a small group of Primary 1 pupils could consist of. When we began the questions on consolidating their knowledge were very closed questions such as “can you remember who came to visit yesterday?” but this meant that all of the children knew the answer but the same children were always the ones who wanted to speak which quickly became chaotic was three or four children were shouting out different things. The children’s group leader* improvised and had the children pass round one of the spaces which meant that the children all had a chance to share what they could remember from yesterday and what they enjoyed most. This first half an hour of the afternoon session was very structure and the children were sitting for a long time before they got to play. However, I can see this as beneficial for the children for when they are moving into primary school and are expected to have structured lessons all day very soon.

The rest of the afternoon was free play for the children. One of the big things I noticed was the lack of interaction with technology. There were two computers and one smartboard that the children, as far as I am aware, can use. However, the children were much more interested in doing activities such as baking, making puzzles, arts and crafts but mainly they were interested in playing games outside including tig and tag and hide and seek. To see children enjoying playing outdoors in the current age when technology is an ever growing medium and outdoor play is steadily decreasing was very encouraging to see.

One of the big things I have observed with the teachers in the nursery today, is their range of tone of voice and their excitement when talking with the children. I was always aware that this would be something I would need to work on when going into an early years setting as my ability to change of my tone of voice with ease can be rather limited. To be able to observe how the nursery teachers do it and how the convey excitement when the children are excited about something is definitely something I am paying close attention to. It was also when the children were speaking over one another in group time, the teacher was never cross or shouted at them but the way she spoke when she asked them to allow someone else to have a turn meant the children understood what they were doing was not kind to the person whose turn it was to speak. I am hoping that through observing this practice over the next 8 weeks that to be able to pick up and replicate some of their skills to be able to improve my practice for my third year placement.

Overall, I had a fantastic first day at nursery: there were many great opportunities to observe, learn, build bonds with the children and most importantly, play. I am thoroughly looking forward to going back after the October break.

 

*As I have not yet had the chance to ask permission to name the teachers in my reflections, they will currently stay anonymous.

My Adventures Are Finished…

End of Placement Reflection

I can’t honestly believe I have finished my placement. I am thoroughly gutted my time at Adventure Aberdeen has come to an end. This placement has been a huge eye opener for myself.

Although over the past six weeks have been full on and there have been tears sometimes from the amount of energy I have used and the lack of sleep I have had, I would not swap this experience: this placement has definitely changed me personally and professionally for the better.blog5

Personally and professionally, this placement has definitely given me a wider view on outdoor education. With outdoor education growing into a much bigger part of teaching through the Curriculum for Excellence as well as it being something you need to be able to do to remain register on the General Teaching Council Scotland, I am glad I have had this opportunity to experience outdoor education. I have been able to go on amazing outdoor education sessions which I can definitely take into my own pedagogy including bikeability, scavenger hunts, wilderness skills, mountain biking (Go MTB scheme) to name a few. I have also been given the opportunity to challenge myself, try new things and overcome fears which I could easily be asked to do with a child/group as a teacher such as coasteering, surfing, canoeing, gorge walking, rock climbing and abseiling. All of these activities I couldn’t do without a qualified tutor but is now something I would definitely not say no to doing.

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Professionally, I used to think that outdoor education in the rain was not a good idea especially with small children. I compared it with Sweden and did wonder how they managed in. Now after placement, outdoor education is a year round option in my opinion. Yes it can be cold but it snowed every day for my fifth week at Adventure Aberdeen and we never cancelled any of the sessions. Yes there were changes to the plan but we were still taking children outdoors. However, I now know that you just have to be prepared and not be afraid to change the lesson then we can always take education outdoors.

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Flexibility around sessions/lessons is a huge thing I have taken away. In first year, I tried to stick to my lesson plan to the word most of the time. However, around 95 percent of the time with Adventure Aberdeen some part of the plan changed. However, there wasn’t a bad session I was out on but if the tutors were not flexible there would have been which is a key lesson I will take away.

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(It might have been snowing but we were still outdoors and smiling!)

 

 

I have read and realised through hands on experience just how much children get from outdoor education. You may be teaching about one thing but the outdoor is so free that there are a number of different things a child can and will take away from the session and the tutors do not always realise how much depth and breadth a child can take from their sessions educationally and personally.IMG_0410 (2)

The biggest thing I have taken away, personally and professionally, from my placement is the thoughts I have been having around my future career. Although I know I want to work with children to make a difference for children. I am not so sure I know if I want that to be in a classroom. I am not naïve, I know this isn’t always a hands on, adventurous job: it has its own challenges and its own stresses. However, I also know that I have had a phenomenal time this last six weeks and I did not want to leave. I am now looking into doing a postgraduate degree in outdoor education after I finish my degree and do my probationary year, whilst also gaining some outdoor education qualifications in the meantime. I am not saying I would never teach, I do thoroughly also enjoy teaching in a classroom but this maybe something I still decide to do. But right now, teaching is looking like something I would come back to later after I have the chance to experience some more outdoor education. I now personally and professionally thoroughly have a massive love for outdoor education and the outdoors.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed this placement and I am very grateful for all of the opportunities I have had through the learning for life module and Adventure Aberdeen. These six weeks have been phenomenal and I have done things I will never forget.blog

First Week Reflections

This first week has been so full on. I don’t think I have ever had so much hands on experience. I have learnt masses of knowledge and ideas that I can take into my practice.

Before I started placement, I had thought I would only need to do a write up once a week. However, due to how much I have learnt this week, I have had to do a daily write up on what I am learning.

In the first week, I have felt like I am already a part of the team at Adventure Aberdeen and I feel like I have been accepted into a massive family. I was very nervous on the Sunday night beforehand. This week, I have learnt just how relaxed the organisation is, compared to a staff room, there is no cliché or groups – everyone is very welcoming and friendly to everyone. There is a good sense of humour within the organisation and I am very much enjoying being a part of this team.

This week, I learnt that the main portion of the organisation work is based on inclusion work. Due to the fact, the children the organisation work with can present very challenging behaviour and the tutors are not trained educators, they have not spent time reading up on behaviour management the same way we do for our degree but what they do have is experience and the way they handle the challenging behaviour is a massive aspect of what I have learnt this week. There are many different ways that they have handle some challenging behaviour that work very effectively these are a key point from this week that I will remember for my future practice in classrooms.

Throughout the week, I have had the chance to do a variety of different activities including: abseiling, mounting biking, a nightline trail and hill walking with a scavenger hunt. All of these activities have each given me so much knowledge about different things I could use for teaching in my future to include outdoor education in my practice. Although the tutors do not have lesson plans, I have been looking at these activities and linking them to the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes when possible through the week.  Even though, I am also spending a lot of time preparing kit, putting kit away and in the store – I feel this is like the equivalent to lesson planning when it comes to teaching in a classroom. I forget how much work I did for teaching a lesson before and after the lesson, planning and reflecting on first year placement. I am extremely grateful for the experience I am having so far and I am looking forward to continuing this next week.

Next week, I am going to Cromdale to experience what it is like doing a residential trip which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

What is Cromdale?

During the 21st to the 24th of March, I am going to be going to Cromdale as part of my placement with Adventure Aberdeen. Therefore I thought I should do a post all about the wonder of Cromdale, one before and one after going there.

“Cromdale Outdoor Centre is Adventure Aberdeen’s residential base on Speyside. Converted from a Victorian village school and schoolhouse it is located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. It is ideally located within easy reach of some of the most spectacular water and land based activity sites in Scotland. The base is perfect for all groups involved in outdoor activities or courses.

Cromdale is situated right in the heart of the Cairngorms, here you can experience the natural beauty of Speyside. From the outstanding waters and unusual wildlife to the towering mountains, this area is known for its breath-taking scenery. Step outside and be greeted by Scotland at its very best. Cromdale Centre is ideally based for a variety of outdoor activities and visits. Venues easily accessible from the centre include:

  • The River Spey (300m from the centre) – access and egress for kayaks, canoes and white water rafts
  • The Speyside Way (200m from the centre) – gentle and scenic walking and biking on waymarked trails.
  • The Cromdale Hills (500m from centre) – excellent and extensive hill walking country with superb views of the Cairngorms and Speyside.
  • Huntly’s Cave (7 miles) – superb rock climbing and abseiling venue.
  • Bridge of Brown Gorge (10 miles) – one of Scotland’s premier gorge walking locations.
  • The Lecht (21 miles) and Cairngorm Mountain (27 miles) – for fantastic ski-ing, downhill mountain biking and hill walking activities with ski-lift and funicular railway access.
  • A multitude of venues for glen or hill walks – Adventure Aberdeen can provide guides and/or instruction.
  • Official Forestry Commission Mountain Biking centres at Moray Monster Trails (20 miles) or Laggan Wolftrax (45 miles).
  • Extensive off-road cycling within the Spey and Cairngorms areas – Adventure Aberdeen can provide guides and/or instruction.
  • Aviemore and Carrbridge areas have many visitor attractions. The Aviemore tourist office or website can provide more details” (Adventure Aberdeen, no date, no page).

My reading has shown the importance for residential outdoor education as well as the importance of a residential trip in the Curriculum for Excellence so I am looking forward to heading to Cromdale to experience this for myself as part of the tutor team.

 

Reference

Adventure Aberdeen (no date) Residential Packages Available at: http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/AdventureAberdeen/Outdooreducation/adventure_residential_packages.asp (Accessed on 17/03/16)

Dyslexia: A Break Down

After an input from one of our lecturers, Will, where he state that if we aren’t aware of the different Additional Support Needs (ASN) then we were being ignorant. Two of my friends and I have decided to look into Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia. As normally if you have one of these ASN then there is a stronger chance you will have another, if not all three as these come as a family of ASN. Through this blog post I am going to briefly give some information on Dyslexia.

What is Dyslexia?

“The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from the Greek and means ‘difficulty with words’.” (British Dyslexia Associations, no date)

Dyslexia is a common addition support need – a person who has dyslexia struggles with reading, writing and spelling. It is a lifelong problem for those who have dyslexia but there is support out there for them.

1 in 10-20 people have Dyslexia – therefore in a common sized primary school class in Scotland, it is more than likely that teachers will have at least one child who struggles with dyslexia if not more.

Unlike many ASN, Dyslexia has no impact on intelligence.

Dyslexia mainly affects the person’s ability to processing and remembering information that see and hear which can impact upon the person’s learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. 

The Signs of Dyslexia

The signs of dyslexia are for the majority, spotted when they are in primary school and begin to focus on reading and writing.

The NHS (no date) states that the signs of dyslexia may include:

  • “read and write very slowly
  • confuse the order of letters in words
  • put letters the wrong way round – such as writing “b” instead of “d”
  • have poor or inconsistent spelling
  • understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • struggle with planning and organisation”.

Dyslexia and The Eyes

The reason I had chosen to look into Dyslexia is that I have a form on dyslexia called Irlen’s Syndrome (which is commonly known as visual stress) which affects how you see text which is common with people with dyslexia. Below is an example of visual stress.

Dyslexia

People with dyslexia often cannot focus when reading standard black writing on white paper. People with dyslexia tend to prefer to have the paper a different colour – the colour of the paper depends on the person. I prefer grey paper which is very uncommon whereas yellow can be very common. There are things called overlays which are coloured plastic sheets for people who have Dyslexia or Irlen’s syndrome to place over paper to filter the paper to the colour they need. Below I have included a yellow and grey overlay but there are multiple different colours which can be seen at the Dyslexia website (ADD hyperlink). For some even the overlays are not even and they have tinted glasses to the colour they need.

Dyslexia and the eyes, Irlen’s syndrome or visual stress can cause symptoms such as the following:

  • “Blurred letters or words which go out of focus.
  • Letters which move or present with back to front appearance or shimmering or shaking.
  • Headaches from reading.
  • Words or letters which break into two and appear as double.
  • Find it easier to read large, widely spaced print, than small and crowded.
  • Difficulty with tracking across the page.
  • Upset by glare on the page or oversensitive to bright lights.”

(British Dyslexia Association, no date).

This can affect the child’s reading ability, making reading very tiring and a chore for children who suffer from it. However, in my own experience after getting the appropriate support, through my grey overlay, I found my love of reading come back.

What can a teacher do to help?

The following advice I have taken from dyslexia.com (Hodge, 2000).

  • Make sure anything that needs to go home, for example messages about when they need to take their physical education kit in, when parents even is. their homework etc, is all written down in a diary and checked before they leave, The advice also suggests getting them to have a couple of friends phone numbers at the front of the diary in case they are confused by what they are to do they can phone and check.
  • Break down tasks and instructions into short chunks of information that is easy to remember.
  • When they are copying from the board, try writing every line in a different colour of every second word underlined. With the technology these days, if you are using power point or interactive smart boards if you have a child who needs a yellow overlay, make the slides have a yellow background – this does not make a difference for anyone else in the classroom but makes it easier for the person who needs the overlay.
  • Make sure the reading stays on the board long enough for the children to read (and if necessary copy it down) it thoroughly and not rush.

The website has lots of advice on different areas including: reading, writing, copying from the board, spelling, maths, homework among others.

 

 

 

More information

Irlen’s Syndrome http://www.irlen.org.uk/

Dyslexia Shop http://www.thedyslexiashop.co.uk/stationery-for-dyslexics/specialist-paper.html

Advice for in the classroom http://www.dyslexia.com/library/classroom.htm

 

 

 

References

British Dyslexia Association (No Date) Dyslexia and Specific Difficulties: Overview Available at: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/dyslexia-and-specific-difficulties-overview Accessed on: 23/01/16

Hodge, P. (2000) A Dyslexia Child in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers and Parents Available at: http://www.dyslexia.com/library/classroom.htm Accessed on: 27/01/16

National Health Service (No Date) Dyslexia Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Dyslexia/Pages/Introduction.aspx Accessed on: 23/01/16