There are certain things in life that still have a stigma attached to them, mental health, weight issues and learning difficulties. Surely it is better to see the person than the label? I for one feel that there should not be stigma attached to these things as they can happen to anyone.
As we know children learn at different paces and some need to be supported in their learning at points in time. Historically when children needed support in their learning they would be withdrawn from the class. For some children this was upsetting and it made me question whether we could approach it differently. Firstly the child had already built a rapport with their class teacher so was there a way to let their own teacher work with them? Secondly learning is something we all do and we all learn in different ways.
So we set up an area in school called ‘The Hub’ that all children in the school visited to learn what their learning styles were. This immediately took away any stigma of children going out for extra support because it was now an area where all children went to at some point to learn. The Support for Learning teacher would sometimes work in the class and allow the teacher to go out with the children that needed extra support. The other thing that happened was that the Support for Learning teacher became part of the Early Intervention Programme in the Primary 1 classes. We hoped that by identifying issues earlier then the child would move forward in their education more easily.
What I really wanted to do though was support the children in the school who were having difficulties in their lives. The Hub developed to have four zones. These were the Skills Zone which was for our children who needed support in their learning. The Space Zone for those children who who needed to switch off from outside school issues. The Snuggle Zone for our children who, due to family circumstances, never just enjoyed cuddling up to have a story read to them on a one-to-one basis. Lastly the Chill Zone for our children who were young carers and needed some time to themselves just to ‘chill’.
In this way we were able to support more children and it turned out to be a great success. The look on the little children’s faces when they had been to the Snuggle Zone for a story was magical.