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Early years: Difficulties with learning: e.g. despite appropriate differentiation/individual strategies

The child makes inadequate progress over time across the curriculum and are working below age related expectations.

Strategies and approaches:

  • Assess through making observations in child-initiated learning and adult directed tasks to identify the areas of need.
  • Model use of open-ended simple pondering statements such as ‘I wonder…’ or ‘what if …’ rather than direct questions.
  • Give clear and simple instructions, breaking down longer instructions and giving one at a time.
  • Use visual timetables, visual cues and prompts e.g. objects, pictures, photos, symbols, choice boards, sequences to support instructions.
  • Develop personalised stories and books using children’s interests.
  • Give time to process information before a response is needed.
  • Use pre-teaching to support the child. If there is a new interest that is planned to be expanded or a new book explored, it may be useful to share this with the child prior to others. It may be helpful to introduce specific language and vocabulary.
  • Make explicit links to prior learning by reminding the child of past events, activities or experiences. Displaying photographs or sharing individual learning journals can support this.
  • Share next steps where appropriate – so the child knows what to expect. This can be very informally done through conversation, for example, “Well done, next time we can try….”
  • When considering the resources needed to support a child scrutinize the developmental stage of the child rather than their age to ensure resources support needs.
  • Use meaningful continuous strategies to boost self-esteem and confidence. Provide specific meaningful praise and feedback when a child persists and / or achieves something new or perseveres at a new task. Staff should praise the child for the process of engagement and learning and “having a go” rather than the outcome.


Learning, Playing and Interacting

Finding and Exploring Young Children’s Fascinations: strengthening the quality of gifted and talented provision in the early years

Progress Matters: reviewing and enhancing young children’s development

Creating the Picture – Primary National Strategy

Understood: a website dedicated to supporting differences

Last updated 18 March 2024

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