Learning in different ways

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By Dr Hannah Mortimereducational pscychologist

Dr Hannah Mortimer explores the differences in children’s learning and needs, and considers what inclusion actually means to practitioners and the children concerned.

If we are to include children who have special educational needs (SEN) fully in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we have to understand that each and every child learns differently, and we must adapt what we do to ensure that they can access the curriculum.

Each child is unique, each child is special

You will probably have read a great deal about the different ways in which children learn – their individual learning styles and how important it is to personalise their learning experiences so that each and every one can make progress. We all know of children who are primarily lookers, listeners and doers. We also know that most children in their early years are a delightful mixture of all three, busily making connections between their experiences and their senses as they play and learn.

If you have reached the point of seeing each child as having a very individual learning style, then you are well placed to see children who have SEN simply as an extension of this. They will have their own very individual package of strengths and weaknesses, and may need more of your support than others. The current guidelines within the SEN Code of Practice (DfES, 2001) suggests a very pragmatic view of SEN. In a nutshell, children have SEN if their needs are additional or different to the majority of the other children. It is up to you to identify any barriers these children might face when accessing your curriculum and to plan adaptations flexibly.

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  1. rosalyn haugabrook
    on 5 January 2010

    alternative assessment

    The article is very relevant to what I do with special needs children everyday. Please include more assessment ideas. thanks

    5out of 5