Informal Stage P1-3

Children at a very early stage of development need people around them who can help them to explore and interpret the world. They have difficulty in making sense of that world and need many opportunities to handle and test out objects, look for patterns and sequences in experiences and generally extend their focus from the immediate to things further away.

Children at this very early stage need to experience the same activities over and over again if they are going to be able to learn from them. Using an on-off or burst-pause pattern with each activity can help the child begin to anticipate what will happen next. As children begin to develop the understanding that they can have an effect on their world, they can be offered a much wider range of activities and objects to explore.

The programme of learning is divided into 4 areas:

1. awareness

2. exploration

3. control and early problem-solving

4. sequence and pattern

Cognition - Semi-formal P4-8

Lacey (2009) has noted that typically children with severe learning difficulties have inefficient and slow information processing speeds, little general knowledge, poor strategies for thinking and learning and difficulties with generalisation and problem solving.

The Cognitive Programme of Learning begins with learning to think and problem solve. As children develop their thinking and problem solving they can begin to generalise, develop their basic understanding of patterns and numbers (Mathematics) and how the world works (Life Skills, Technology, Science and Community-based learning).

Generalisation is about performing in different settings with different people. Children with severe learning difficulties need to be taught the same skill in different contexts and settings.

Problem solving needs to be taught specifically and can be broken down into the following elements. Prompting is used to support problem-solving and there is progression from being able to perform a task only with physical support, through gestural and signed / spoke help to being able to complete the task independently

Students need lots of opportunities to practise the different elements if they are to become better problem solvers. Students are provided with opportunities to maintain skills, knowledge and understanding consistently over time.