It has been acknowledged for some years that the early years in school are the key to later success in learning. The importance of this stage has been recognised through the introduction of the new Foundation Phase in Wales, and the Foundation stage in the UK.
Despite the recent emphasis on introducing reading skills at an early stage, the proportion of children who struggle to learn to read has increased. This has led to a change in emphasis in early schooling, which now in both Wales and the UK is trying to develop strong foundations for later more formal schooling. In order to do this, we must emphasise the skills that children need to have in place before they are ready to learn.
This intervention programme helps children who may require additional support putting in place an intervention programme that can easily be delivered within an inclusive school setting, without the need for extra resources.
Why a Programme for the Early Years?
Many intervention programmes produced for early years teachers focus on early reading development and include specific activities and games relating to letter knowledge, high frequency words and sentence building using words and pictures. This resource is aimed at suggesting a range of multisensory activities which utilise concrete objects and everyday tools to provide practice in skills at the pre-literacy stage. As children mature they may increase their understanding of symbols, moving from the concrete to the abstract and they can then accept pictures for games instead of objects and eventually written words.
The programme will address all aspects of early literacy, physical development and readiness to learn and will be a useful resource for teachers who identify children who are struggling to interact independently in their learning environment within the Foundation Phase.
The aim of this resource is to give teachers the opportunity to focus on key developmental skills and to build an awareness and confidence in understanding and identifying the underlying specific needs of some children.
Early identification can then be supplemented with a short term intervention which engages the whole child in learning through play in accordance with the Foundation Phase pedagogical principles. It allows the teacher to focus on individual progress and the development of each child.
The activities are designed to incorporate games which are fun for the children to participate in and which will engage them in activity-based learning which they will anticipate with enthusiasm and excitement within a structured plan. They will have the opportunity to establish secure learning pathways, talk about what they are doing and so consolidate the patterns and processes of skill development in which they are engaged. The programme has been developed with the support of teachers in the Foundation Phase who have piloted the structured activities and have given positive feedback and recommendations.
The Early Intervention Programme
All children in the reception year are screened using the Dyslexia Early Screening Test. Children identified with gaps in their pre-reading skills are then included in the intervention programme. The Intervention takes place over a 12-week period following an introductory week of the activities.
The interventions involve structured multisensory teaching through games and activities based on five areas of development. This includes phonological awareness, visual, spatial and auditory memory and sequencing. It also draws upon fine and gross motor skills development as documented in the ‘Do and Discover’ school pack which includes fun activities to develop physical skills in the early years.