When 6-year-old Kane enrolled in SPD’s Development Support Programme (DSP) last year, he was having difficulties coping in his kindergarten. Kane’s teacher had concerns over his lack of interest in learning and his inattentiveness in class, which could possibly be because of his poor English leading to difficulties following in class.
Kane’s parents are divorced and he stays with his mother and elder sister. He is taken care of by his grandparents when his mother is at work and communicates mainly in Mandarin at home.
SPD’s DSP provides on-site intervention and learning support to pre-schoolers in kindergartens and childcare centres to help children with mild developmental needs such as learning difficulties, speech and language delays and behavioural issues make a smoother transition to mainstream primary schools. The programme not only addresses the child’s limitations but also works with those in the child’s immediate environment including parents, teachers and classmates, to holistically help the child overcome his challenges.
Kane’s Learning Support Educator, Ms Nor Jannah, used various language techniques and activities to address his language and literacy issues. She worked with him on categorisation, such as of different objects, food and animals, functions of objects by answering questions like “what is a pencil for?”, personal pronouns like ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘we’, and spatial concepts of words such as ‘in front of’, ‘behind’, ‘on’ and ‘under’. Ms Nor Jannah also helped him with answering and asking questions like ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘who’, as well as following directions.
On top of these, she taught him basic sound knowledge, blending skills like joining sounds of individual letters to make words, word recognition, sentence construction and spelling. After undergoing these activities, Kane was able to pronounce three- to four-letter words previously unfamiliar to him, recognise and pronounce words that often appear in his books and write more varied sentences using new words learnt.
Despite his Mandarin-speaking background, Kane showed marked improvement in both language and literacy. Over a six-month period, he developed the interest to learn and gradually took more initiative during intervention sessions. At the same time, he became more independent in doing his school work, only seeking help from his elder sister occasionally. Although his mother was not able to help him much with his school work, she was very supportive of the programme and Kane’s progress.
Intervention is important to provide the help needed to bridge the gap for the child and provide him with an equal footing to progress to the mainstream school. This can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for the child, the family and the community.
Kane’s progress demonstrates that with assistance and professional help, children who face difficulties in learning are able to overcome their limitations and achieve positive learning outcomes.