PODCAST QUESTIONS: NAMIBIA (Remedial Teacher at Private School)
How are children who struggle with learning to read supported in schools or in some other way?
How are teachers supported in their teaching of reading?
What can be done to further support literacy teaching and learning? (by and for learners; by and for teachers; by and for parents; etc.)
What do you regard as the most important factors to support young children’s reading success?
Response from a learning support specialist affiliated to a private school (Typed from the audial recording)
In our school learners in grade 1 are identified by the class teacher early on when they have finished with the perception, especially visual and auditory perception. Then they are referred to me. I do some basic exercises with them and if needed, I refer them for further testing. That is at our school. Learners in grade 2 are usually learners who were identified in grade 1 already. They are in grade 2 and come for two sessions per week for remedial teaching; covering more strategies for reading. It depends on what type of learner they are. If they are kinetic learners of if they are sensory learners. It all depends on them, and if we have to use colour and word building with homes for visual recognition and putting visual pictures to words, it depends on the learner how we help them.
And in grade 3, the children who are identified there as children who have problems with reading, writing (they are dyslexic). They get help in how to cope with the learning problem they have and technology that they can use to help them cope with that. And helps with certain factors, like they don’t have to do unprepared reading and their spelling isn’t a part of their final mark. All the things that we help them with are part of the Ministry of Education’s policy: Learners with reading problems and disabilities are incorporated in the MoE policy and we just help the kids regarding that. That’s what we do at our school.
Then: How do we support he teachers with learners who have reading problems?
The teachers usually get guidance from me. Also, I evaluate the learners and according to that I will give them hints on how to .. how each specific leaner….., e.g. learners who have visual problems, that still have problems with starting from left to right, I will give them exercise that they do in their classes and after school they have classes where they assist these learners: where they do the visual exercise that I gave them. I have programs on the internet that also help the while they are helping these kids.
For most of these learners its doing not a whole lesson. It’s just breaking it down into smaller pieces. So the teachers are aware of what the children’s problems are and how to cope with it and the expectations of the basic competencies that they have to adhere to at the end of the year, are all incorporated into how the teachers are assisted.
Most of the parents are on board with the helping of the children, because we send them for evaluation with Vicky de Beer. She is on top of reading problems with her own child who has dyslexia. She is on top of all in helping children with dyslexia and especially if they have problems with their basic problems that they have. So she .. we refer most of our problem children to her for evaluation in grade 3 to determine if there is dyslexia or not. Before that it is regarded as some problem.. with a perceptual problem if they switching letters and stuff like that, but there’s a lot of red flags that always show up in grade 1 and 2. Dyslexia can only formally be diagnosed in grade 3.The parents are going for sessions with her after the evaluation is done by her and me and her work very closely with each other to help the children.
If at first you realise that there is a problem at first, I will recommend that they take the child firstly to Sunette Chapman for an eye test. She does a specific eye test to see if the fault is with the eyes or fixating on a certain point or if it’s a cross eye. So she does that test. No other optometrist in Namibia is doing the test that she is doing. She went to America specifically to study for this. That is always our point of departure to start at that. And if that isn’t a problem then we go for a hearing test. What we found out is that a lot of these kids have a problem with…..they are allergic to some products and it was only recognised till late in their development. A lot of ear infections and stuff like that originate from their allergic reaction to like milk or cheese or stuff like that. While we wait for all of these test results to come back, I start immediately with doing the remedial; looking at their development of what they struggled with when they were in preprimary. Many times the problem already originated there. So we start from there, basically from scratch.