The folks at The Hanen Centre kindly sent me a copy of I’m Ready – How to Prepare Your Child for Reading Success and asked me what I thought. Here in the UK advice about how to support literacy skills seems to change frequently, so I was interested to see what Janice Greenberg and Elaine Weitzman suggest.
The book has 6 chapters: Early Literacy, Conversation, Vocabulary, Story Comprehension, Print Knowledge and Sound Awareness. It’s visually appealing; the text is broken up by photographs and drawings. I read it over several days and found it easy to pick up where I’d left off. There’s a comprehensive list of recommended children’s books, coded in terms of how they can be used to support literacy. I think the ‘Try it out!’ checklists and reflection questions look useful. Continue reading →
On three recent school visits, I left feeling that the needs of the children on my caseload weren’t being met. So I looked at the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for some persuasive pointers to use with teachers.
In the practice guidance booklet, on page 6, it states: “Meeting the individual needs of all children lies at the heart of the EYFS. Practitioners should deliver personalised learning… to help children get the best possible start in life.” It goes on to say, “You must plan for each child’s individual care and learning requirements.”
On these occasions, this kind of individual planning seemed to be missing. Perhaps I could refer to the EYFS to make discussions with teachers more constructive?
Something along the lines of: We need to be planning how to meet x’s individual learning requirements, in line with the EYFS. Shall we have a look at the plans you have in place already, and think about how the activities x and I have been doing can be incorporated?
At work recently, the issue of whether our standard advice for language enrichment is compatible with Montessori education came up, during peer supervision. When a Montessori school asked for help extending their younger pupils’ language and conversation skills, my colleague began by mentioning that the “home corner” was a great setting for encouraging language. She was told that home corners are contrary to the Montessori ethos.
According to Wikipedia, the Montessori method “is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child.” My colleague was told that her suggestions to comment on a child’s play, play games involving following instructions and ask questions about a book were adult-directed and therefore not appropriate. The colleague left the meeting feeling frustrated and unsure how to move forward with the situation.
In supervision it was suggested that perhaps the Early Years Foundation Stage would provide a common ground. When I searched google I found that the Montessori Schools Association have put together a document (PDF) which demonstrates how their approach shares the underlying principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage. I found a number of examples of Montessori practice in the document which SLTs could use to model ways of extending and developing language. These included farm, hospital or any other “small world” play, using puppets and props to re-tell stories, and role-play such as “shop”.
I think it’s a helpful document—hopefully the ideas in it will make the next meeting with the school more productive! The same colleague also told the supervision group about many positive experiences working with Montessori schools. What is your experience of working with staff in Montessori settings? Any tips you could share? SLT games / activities that are compatible with their ethos? It would be great to hear other people’s ideas!