By Rebecca Lucock
Traditional education systems see students with learning difficulties as possibly having a disability. This is then confirmed of course by an educational psychologist and the child’s learning is altered to suit where possible. However, many children can end up carrying a label associated with this and at times ‘give up’ on the concept of learning and be seen as not having the capacity to learn in certain areas. Yes, there may be some areas that are difficult to understand but that is true for everyone, not just someone that has an alternate learning style. It is our job as home educators to find the right pathway that breaks through this limited view and is creative enough to allow a connection to occur between the child and a learning area.
SUPPORTING ALTERNATE LEARNING STYLES THROUGH HOME LEARNING
WITHIN THE NSW CUCRRICULUM
As home educators we know that sometimes these so-called ‘disabilities’ also have great advantages and when learning is flexible enough to be adjusted to suit a child’s strength they can suddenly thrive. After all, isn’t this the beauty of home learning, creating a plan that draws upon children’s interest and abilities. When applying this to your planning for registration sometimes the more creative the approach the more engaged a child can become with an alternate learning style. NESA uses the terminology of ‘adjustments’ for this, which relates to altering planning to meet the outcomes.
‘The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 outline the obligations of education and training providers to make reasonable adjustments. These reasonable adjustments should ensure that students with disability can access and participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability. Decisions regarding curriculum options, including adjustments, should be made in the context of collaborative curriculum planning.
Adjustments are actions taken that enable a student with disability to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. These adjustments relate to teaching, learning and assessment from Kindergarten to Year 12. The types of adjustments will vary according to the needs of the individual student. Decisions are made at school level to offer adjustments to students with disability in course work and assessment activities.’
Adjustments are made to suit capability and growth in learning as a child develops new skills for life. Within the syllabus NESA has added what is known as Access Control Points to help to adapt planning where required in order to meet the outcomes. As your child progresses in their stages of learning you can choose outcomes from different stages where they suit your child’s level of understanding or you may just focus on one or two that you feel are important instead of having to meet all of them. For example, if your child is moving through stage 4 outcomes, you may actually use a lower stage outcome to meet a certain point of learning. If you feel the outcomes are just not suitable at all then you have the option of using the access content points to reflect upon in your planning instead. Adding to this, for secondary level stages NESA uses Life Skills Outcomes as an alternate approach. If using adjustments don’t support a child to meet some or all outcomes during Stages 4–6, then Life Skills outcomes can be another suitable option.
Whether your philosophy is Traditional; Classical; Charlotte Mason; Unit; Literature Based or Natural Learning we know how important this is to uphold and we are endeavouring to provide examples to suit any approach. Please remember these are just some suggestions and not all may relate to your child’s learning.
EARLY STAGE 1
SUGGESTED EXAMPLES FOR ACCESS CONTENT POINT
Communicates effectively by using interpersonal conventions and language with familiar peers and adults
My child acknowledges friends and family with a smile when greeted and uses facial expression well while communicating.
My child can hear and respond to social interactions with gestures e.g., pointing to show me what she wants.
My child is beginning to understand basic Auslan sign and can use correct responses for basic communication such as needing a drink.
Vocabulary - Understands and effectively uses Tier 1 words and Tier 2 words in familiar contexts
My child can identify items from a group when asked e.g., Where is the cup?
My child can match items to photos, pictures or symbols.
My child knows the difference between a stop sign and when asked to stop when playing a game.
Identifies, blends, segments and manipulates phonological units in spoken words as a strategy for reading and creating texts
My child has hearing impairment and does not identify rhyme in sound but can point out simple words from visual aids that have similar structure e.g., cat and hat.
My child can identify rhyming words from picture cards when I speak them e.g., cat and hat.
My child likes rhyming books and will repeat the rhyming words after I read them.
Tracks written text from left to right and from top to bottom of the page and identifies visual and spatial features of print
My child can point to the correct picture that matches a read word e.g., points to a car when the word car is in the text.
My child can read symbols around them e.g., the red stop light when driving.
My child can correctly choose a book about a horse from the library when asked.
My child correctly points to the letters in her own name.
My child can follow my finger along a page when reading stories.
My child enjoys turning the page of a story when I pause and look at him.
Uses single-letter grapheme–phoneme correspondences and common digraphs to decode and encode words when reading and creating texts
My child can point to the correct first letter of basic words e.g., points to the letter h for house.
My child can group together pictures that start with the same letter or sound e.g., car, cat, cup.
Reads decodable texts aloud with automaticity
My child can easily find their own name amongst other words.
My child can find the word ball when shown a picture of a ball.
My child can find the matching picture or symbol to a word if asked when we read to her.
Comprehends independently read texts using background knowledge, word knowledge and understanding of how sentences connect
My child can copy a picture and perform the action e.g., jump if shown a picture of someone jumping.
My child knows to stop at a pedestrian crossing when he sees the sign.
Creates written texts that include at least 2 related ideas and correct simple sentences
My child can identify the correct colour spoken of in a story.
My child can act out 2 step instructions either through my direction or if asked to act out a part of a story e.g., the rabbit hopped over and hid behind the lounge.
Applies phonological, orthographic and morphological generalisations and strategies to spell taught familiar and high-frequency words when creating texts.
My child can sign the correct spelling of familiar words.
My child can point to the correct spelling of basic words out of a group e.g., ball, bal, bawl.
My child can use alphabet cards to spell familiar words.
My child can match photos with words beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet.
Produces all lower-case and upper-case letters to create texts
My child can use upper- and lower-case cards to spell her own name with a capital.
My child can point to the upper-case letters in a story.
Understands and responds to literature read to them.
My child can select a picture to correctly match the ending of a sentence read to them.
My child can use photos to retell a story correctly.
My child can point to the main characters in a story.