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How to support and advance learning of young people

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1. Explain in detail how you would support and advance the learning of children and young people in your class:
A. Individually
B. In a small group
C. The whole class with and without teacher support

Look at the resources available. As the HLTA, how do you react to different situations? Think about the skills you use to communicate and build relationships.

Motivation is the key to supporting and advancing the learning of children and young people within my class. Motivation affects the nature of an individuals behaviour, the strength of the behaviour, and the persistence of the behaviour. There are many approaches to motivation: physiological, behavioural, cognitive and social. It is the crucial element on setting and achieving goals. Although activities are incorporated into lesson plans to engage children and young people in class, essentially we are trying to motivate them to complete these activities to a satisfactory outcome to advance their learning.

Children and young people do things because they want to, as they are naturally curious. If a child makes a choice that is self benefiting, this is called ‘intrinsic motivation’ e.g. by choosing what clothes they want to wear. If the child is doing an activity that has direction from someone else, then this is ‘extrinsic motivation’ because it is happening outside of the child or young person. Children that are intrinsically motivated are more likely to retain information, as it is themselves that are being rewarded and therefore would be more involved in their learning development.

A number of behavioural characteristics can be used to measure high motivation. As a HLTA, if we can access these characteristics, then lessons would prove to be more interesting and productive. Persistence is the capability to stay focused on task for a moderate period of time. If a child or young person is motivated then they will stay on task for longer than an unmotivated child. Persistence is associated with being successful at a task. So that this can be achieved in the classroom it means giving the child or young person a task that is just challenging enough to be achieved.

Emotion is another indicator of motivation. Children who succeed at a task will show enthusiasm in what they have achieved, whilst a child who is unmotivated, will show an opposite emotion – complaining, being sullen or quiet.

Children with intrinsic motivation will require only a small amount of help from adults, as they are likely to be self motivated. On the other hand children and young people who are extrinsically motivated will strive for constant attention from adults.

As a HTLA I will need to be aware of these factors and what motivates the children and young people I come into contact in school. With the children or young people that appear to be unmotivated I could speak to the child or the parents to see what they are interested in, therefore making them feel involved in their child’s learning and that they are contributing. When planning activities to support a child or young persons learning I need to give all children concerned the ability to achieve but to be motivated. This may involve setting more challenging activities for those that are more able.

Communication is an intricate process that involves the receiving and giving of information in several different ways. This is usually split into written, verbal and non-verbal forms. As a HLTA, developing communication skills is fundamental to advancing the learning of children whether we are working with individuals, groups or the whole class. Most of the work undertaken as a HLTA is with individuals or small groups. The introduction of the Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners in 2004, focused on adapting education to the needs of individual children or young people under the direction of the class teacher. This was in order to build effective relationships with children and young people and as a HLTA a range of communication skills are needed.

The majority of our understanding of communication comes through non-verbal indications and messages that are given out by us all. We are not always aware of these gestures but we need to use these sensitively as they could mean something different in another culture. Non-verbal communication is important, as rooted within these signals, that we send and receive, are hints to attitude and feelings that may not be available in the spoken word. Some of the non-verbal cues we give out when we speak to people are: Self presentation – how we look, hair, clothes. First impressions are important. Therefore in the classroom HLTA’s need to be well groomed and if taking the class well prepared. Body language – your body language needs to match what you are saying. Inappropriate body language can cause confusion with some children and young people that have additional needs.

As well as thinking about your own body language, the children’s body language needs to observed as well. Body language can be categorised into: Gestures and body movement – i.e. an aid to expression e.g. to emphasise height, width, etc. Hand gestures help to convey meaning e.g. Sign Language is communication without the use of words. Facial expressions and eye contact – use of smiles, pouts and raised eyebrows are used to accompany dialogue. It is worth noting that some children or young people feel threatened by eye contact. Spatial proximity and touch – to interact with young children involves working in close proximity but can vary depending on the nature of the activity and the needs of the children.

As a HLTA you need to be aware of possibly invading spaces. As far as touch is concerned, although it can be seen as a sign of praise or encouragement, it can be seen as inappropriate in line with child abuse, so you need to take care with physical contact. Paralanguage – how to use your voice. By altering your speech in terms of pace, pitch, intonation you can put a different meaning to any sentence. Your voice is a valuable tool within the classroom, therefore, you need to be able to alter it to make yourself heard within a noisy environment when speaking to someone on an individual basis. The rate of delivery of your speech directly impacts whether or not the child or young person receives and understands the message.

As a HLTA, when working with children and young people, as individuals or in groups, how you use your language will shape the interpersonal relationships you build with them and climate of the working environment. The National Literary Strategy states that ‘good oral work enhances pupils’ understanding of language in both oral and written forms and of the way in which language can be used to communicate.’

Children and young people need to acquire competence in four main areas of language: phonology – rules relating to the sounds of words and their constituent vowels and consonants. syntax – rules associated with how words are combined to produce grammatical sentences. semantics – rules relating to the meaning of words and utterances. pragmatics – knowledge that relates to how language is used appropriately within different social contexts. To help support and advance the learning of children and young people, it is important to remember that when explaining anything, you need to: take account of any previous knowledge, experience and understanding discover any existing familiarity with the information being presented use terms that can’t be confused use language appropriate for their age and ability describe and outline the major terms and concepts link if possible to other subject areas across the curriculum

Modelling can be used to reinforce verbal explanations and is exceptionally good for visual learners or those who have English as an additional language. Questioning is another way of supporting and advancing the learning of children and young people. Questioning can be used for a number of reasons to check whether they understand the subject or to get feedback. However some children may have difficulty answering the question and will therefore need additional support in the way of prompts. These may be: verbal prompts – giving part of the sentence, hints, referring to parts of the lesson gestural prompts – pointing to an object or modelling behaviour physical prompts – guiding a child through movement skills

As well as these prompts a HLTA needs to be aware of different styles of learning so that every child or young person can understand the question. The styles of learning are: visual – pictures, gestures diagrams and models can stimulate learning auditory – verbal prompts, explanations and questions can stimulate learning kinaesthetic – physical prompts in addition to using movement can stimulate learning.

Listening to the children also plays a part in the advancement of a child’s learning. Being able to listen to children’s responses and being able to respond in an appropriate manner can’t be overemphasised. How a child responds can tell you a number of things; do they understand the question?, Do they know the answer or not?, Or were they not listening. Repeating back what the child has said helps you to clarify their understanding and enables you to question further to help advance their learning. How you respond to each child or young person is important, as they need to feel that you are interested in what they are saying. Each child needs the same level of acknowledgement whether they are working one to one with an adult, working in a small group or as a whole class.

To support and advance the learning of children and young people working within small groups, as a HLTA I need to be aware of the quiet ones, those who won’t speak and those that would like to but are too shy, the assertive ones who try to dominate and also know when to step in to bring them back on task should they wander too far off. I will need to model or teach the children or young people how to behave in a group. This may be the setting of ground rules, such as only being allowed to talk when holding the teddy, so that everyone has as much time as needed. Therefore getting the support and chance to advance their learning. I must also be aware of keeping the group focused and not to let the children talk in smaller groups.

As a HLTA I must consider and be sensitive to the needs of all children. For example, I lead a PSHE session once a week for a small group of children. On one occasion the group was initially hesitant to join in and one child was being disruptive. I reminded them of our rules, that we could only speak when we are holding a piece of our talking tree. (A piece of log small enough for them to hold in their hands.) By first directing the questions at the child being disruptive, to gain their attention and then by asking the others questions to get them all to join in, I managed to involve them all. By using resources that interest them their confidence has grown and they all join in at each session.

Working with the whole class, with or without the teachers support, is similar to working with small group. Again I will need to keep them all on track and not to let them talk all at once. Ground rules can be set and I will need to be sensitive to all needs. As a HLTA I will be aware of any child with additional support, so will be able make provisions for them.

Working with children on a one to one basis means that I will know the child well and their specific needs and will be able to carry out activities tailored to suit their needs and offer the challenges needed to advance their learning.

As a HLTA I would need to react to different situations regarding children and young people but at the same time support and advance their learning. For example, a child in the reception class was anxious about starting school even though they had been in the nursery unit attached and had accessed the reception class every day. On his first day in reception they got very upset and they were reluctant to leave their mum. I got down to the child’s level and talked to them explaining what we were going to do during the sessions and that mum would be back shortly. After a while walking around the class and reassuring them that mum would return, they started to feel more relaxed and became more involved in the different activities with my support. Although this happened for the next couple of days, they now come into class with a smile. As children learn best when they are happy and relaxed, they will now be able to progress in their learning.

By using a child centred approach, you are looking at the child as a whole, their abilities, strengths, interests and learning style, as well as any additional needs or disabilities. It requires children and young people to be active and responsible participants in their learning, giving them a say in their learning through target setting, choice and decision making. This gives them a sense of ownership and enables them to become more proactive in their learning and to be more in control. This in turn gives them the motivation to learn – they can see where they are, where they want to be and the steps they need to take to get there. By being child centred and inclusive you are not restrictive, but allow for learning opportunities that suit the child because you plan and target set with them. This creates a closer match between the child and the curriculum, allowing them to learn and develop at their own level and build on their knowledge, therefore, advancing their learning.

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