Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
We are committed to providing a high-quality curriculum for all our children. We believe that all children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have an entitlement to a broad and balanced academic and social curriculum, which is accessible to them, and to be fully included in all aspects of Nursery life. We believe that all children should be equally valued in school, and we strive to develop an inclusive environment where all children can flourish, feel safe and attain the best possible outcomes.
We have curious conversations with parents and carers and seek advice from other professionals (if involved) to help inform our baseline assessments for children with SEND. The focus is to understand what the child knows, understands, and can do, and the uniqueness of their play behaviours, learning dispositions and interests which can provide strong foundations for learning and progress. Our approach ensures that every child can reach their full potential, have authentic experiences, feel a sense of belonging and be happy. This in turn allows us to support the whole family; advising, creating positive relationships, and empowering them to understand their child’s learning journey.
All children are entitled to the Early Years curriculum. They will not all manage to do and know everything that is mapped out; some who appear vulnerable at first may thrive later in the year and children have different interests and experiences to build upon. Rather than ‘differentiating down,’ we believe that ‘scaffolding up’ is a positive approach in our commitment to inclusion. By ‘scaffolding up,’ children with SEND are exposed to the concepts and skills in our wider curriculum in a suitable breadth and depth. ‘Differentiating down’ suggests that children with SEND have limited access to the activities in the curriculum. Our commitment to ‘scaffolding up’ means that children are included in the wider curriculum and are integrated with their peers. For example, if a child has specific difficulties with their communication, for example, they may need to have aids such as a communication board so that they can make choices and share their ideas in play activities.
Woven into our curriculum we deliver strategies and activities that were initially developed to aid the inclusion of children with SEND to enable them to engage more meaningfully in what it means to play and learn with developmental differences. However, we have found that these strategies benefit all children, improving their communication and language skills, social skills, self-help skills, behaviour, physical development and their attitude towards discovery, exploration, and learning. They therefore form the foundations of our provision.
Following the children’s interests and their lines of enquiry is an essential curriculum driver for children with SEND. We use their motivators to create irresistible invitations to access a wider range of curricular activities.
Intensive Interaction is used with children who have social communication difficulties. It helps to develop eye contact and early communication skills between the child and adult so children learn to enjoy being with and attending to another person.
Attention Building Group Activities
The Attention Autism programme and Let’s Connect are structured small group activities aimed at developing children’s attention on an adult led agenda and developing natural and spontaneous communication using visually based and highly motivating activities. The sessions aim to grab children’s attention, build their attention and then enable them to shift their attention from watching, to participating by taking a turn and back to watching again. Let’s Connect also requires children to make choices during the session. Despite ‘autism’ in the title of the programme we find the activities help all children learn how to attend to adult led group sessions.
Mindfulness and Yoga
Staff teach and demonstrate positions and breathing exercises promoted by yoga practice for children and basic mindfulness techniques of sitting quietly and learning to keep our bodies still and calm. There is an emerging body of research that indicates that mindfulness can help our children improve their ability to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset, and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
Adult supported sessions where 2 children build a set Lego model together. One child assumes the role of the architect and gives instructions, either verbally or using visual supports, to build a certain model to another child, who is the builder. This helps children to socially interact with peers, sustain social interaction over a period of time, engage in paired problem solving, take turns, wait patiently and develop joint attention on a shared challenge.
Short sensory motor skills programme involving an alerting, organising and then calming activity are encouraged at regular intervals to help improve children’s ability to self-regulate and concentrate. Some children need these activities more regularly than others. Heavy work activities such as pushing, pulling, lifting carrying and transporting can also help with children’s self-regulation.
Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. We use Makaton for all children and teach the children two or three signs each week. We believe all children benefit from learning to sign and it is also greatly of benefit for children who are learning English.