Commonsense Methods for Children with Special Educational Needs: Strategies for the Regular Classroom

By Peter Westwood | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Developing early literacy skills: Principles and practices

The acquisition of literacy skills is a developmental process. Teachers must plan the learning for pupils who do not acquire these skills readily, based on their individual learning needs. The teacher of pupils with special educational needs should use what children already know, coupled with a knowledge of how pupils learn, as a basis for planning their future learning.

(Duncan and Parkhouse 2001:1)

Learning to read is a complex task even for children of average intelligence. It can be a very difficult task indeed for children with disabilities. Yet despite the difficulties, almost all children can be helped to acquire skills in word recognition and comprehension through application of effective teaching methods (Butler and Silliman 2002; Conners 1992).


A balanced approach to literacy teaching

It has been said that there is no one method, medium, approach or philosophy that holds the key to the process of learning to read. From this it follows that the greater the variety of methods known to teachers the more likely it is that they will feel competent to provide appropriate help for children with learning difficulties.

Spiegel (1999:11) has written:

Because research does not support the idea that one size fits all, that one approach will work with all children for all aspects of literacy development for all curricula, a balanced approach must be flexible. Teachers must examine all the alternatives and strive each day to find the best ways to help each child develop as a reader and a writer. This means that few approaches or strategies are automatically assumed appropriate for all children. It also means that few approaches or strategies are automatically rejected as never appropriate.

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