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Pupil Rentention issues

Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by melpearson87, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. melpearson87

    melpearson87 New commenter

    Hi everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying a nice sunny Saturday!

    I’m looking for some advice, I have a P3 class and have one learner who struggles incredibly with the curriculum. The main issue is retention. One day the learner can name their sounds a-z (not in any alphabetical order) and the next it’s as if I’m showing a completely different alphabet. The learner cannot blend - on occasion can identify the sounds but finds it almost impossible to put “i” and “n” together to make “in”. On one occasion the learner managed to do this but on the third attempt (after in and of) couldn’t identify the sounds in “it” and instead said “m, a, that” and then couldn’t identify the sounds or the previous words they had managed to blend the 2 minutes before.

    I have tried everything - songs, rhymes, play, tactile resources, toe by toe (old school!), various different resources (nelson, Collins, jolly phonics etc) actively jumping the sounds, unicorn galloping over them, sprinkling the learner with “magic dust” (they said it might help them learn better!)

    This has been an issue since P1, educational psychology have closed the file saying there’s nothing more they can do. I’ve looked into the GDSS getting started programs but even the first level is too advanced and involves alphabetical order and blending which is beyond where this learner is. I feel totally helpless, I have exhausted my 10 years experience and have looked for anything that may help. Does anyone know of any resources that aren’t as well known or has anyone come across a similar situation before and has seen any progress?

    The learner has made massive social progress and for the first time in 3 years has friends and is included in the class as much as possible with highly differentiated work and 1-1 adult support to complete. Knowing the sounds is an incredible achievement for this learner but I just feel in a year I should be able to do more but I honestly don’t know what else to do!

    Any advice would be great! Thanks!
  2. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    What you seem to be describing is a child with very poor, or inconsistent, short term memory. One minute they appear to recognise individual letters, or blends, and, the next, they seem to have learned nothing, resorting instead to random guesses.

    It is easy to blame yourself as the teacher but, in truth, the child may simply have some form of minimal brain damage that makes such basic learning very difficult. Indeed, you mention that the child has made massive social progress and, for the first time in 3 years, has friends and is included in the class as much as possible.

    That would seem to indicate that the child has experienced significant developmental delay and it is possible they started school with very limited speech and unable to interact socially with other children.

    The positive thing to remember is that they have made massive social progress and this is perhaps the key in taking things forward. Also, P3 is still very young.

    As a general rule, children tend to find it easier to blend from a vowel to a consonant, rather than the other way around: (an, en , in, on, un) or (at, et, it, ot, ut), etc

    Unfortunately, for the child you are describing, individual letter sounds, or blends, may be too random and devoid of meaning to be easily remembered and, therefore, a whole word approach, in which s/he can be helped to identify similar sounds, rhymes or patterns at the end of words they understand, may prove more helpful.

    Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive that a child who has difficulty recognising, and remembering, individual letters or blends could cope with whole words, the important point is that they are seeing - and hearing - the same word pattern, and sound, linked together in a meaningful context.

    It is important that this is done in a small group, rather than simply on a one-to-one basis, because children with such specific difficulties can sometimes learn better as part of a social group where they can watch, and learn, from others rather than feel solely under pressure to come up with the answer themselves. They can, and should of course, be encouraged to join in with the group.

    Here is how the word, or pattern game would work with, for example, the blend 'in'. You, or a child, could suggest a starting word such as 'bin' and then see how many other words the group can suggest that fit the same sound pattern / rhyme, such as, 'tin', 'spin', 'grin', 'fin', 'din', 'pin', etc. It is important to describe and discuss each word, perhaps even finding an object, or picture, to illustrate each word so that the vocabulary is meaningful.

    Saying the words aloud, whilst pointing to the written form, helps to link together the written word and its sound in a meaningful way. The children could also try doing a mime to see if the others in the group can guess which word they are referring to. Then move on to the other vowels and consonants and see how many word patterns and sequences you can build up. Interestingly, you will find that most longer words are simply constructed from these simple building blocks.

    Finally, don't be put off by those who would suggest that such an approach is boring. In my experience, young children tend to love building their knowledge of words in just such a systematic way.

    Good luck!
    Alice K likes this.

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