We all want to give our children the best education possible, which makes choosing the right school a daunting decision for any parent. This can seem like an even bigger challenge when you are told that your child needs extra help in the form of remedial education.
When it comes to identifying and remediating learning challenges or barriers in young children, earlier is always better. This is according to former Umhlali Preparatory School principal and founding principal of Eden Academy Astra Russell.
Having spent more than 30 years working as a teacher and principal, Astra has developed a passion for remedial education and says parents and teachers need to work together to make sure children enjoy school rather than be afraid of it.
“Children are recommended to attend Remedial School because they struggle to read and write at an appropriate age and grade level. Being diagnosed as a pupil with average and above average IQ, being placed in a small sized remedial class gives the teacher the opportunity to work extensively on a pupil’s difficulties. The goal, after two to three years on a remediation programme, is for the pupil to return to their previous mainstream school,” she says.
Once a teacher has identified a pupil who possibly needs further remedial support, the parent’s attention is drawn to the specific difficulties a child is experiencing. These could include: difficulty understanding and following directions and instructions, a short attention span and is easily distracted, difficulty with handwriting and fine motor activities, visual or auditory sequential memory in memorising words or basic facts is difficult, listens and speaks well but has difficulty decoding when reading, is overactive and impulsive, has difficulty in allocating time and organising work, is unmotivated towards tasks that are difficult and is not effective or efficient in using learning strategies.
Astra says there are many other difficulties covered in the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and ADHD, but a child should not be moved to a Remedial School until a comprehensive Intellectual Assessment has been conclude by a registered clinical, counselling or educational psychologist working in conjunction with an occupational therapist, language and speech therapist. “The diagnosis from this team will allow the teacher to concentrate on the specific disabilities that have been identified.”
Sadly, Astra says that often as a pupil loses his or her self-esteem and confidence in a mainstream school because of learning challenges, and school becomes an unhappy place to be in and homework and studying sessions at home becoming a very tiring session for the whole family. “Working at a slower pace in a remedial classroom allows the pupil to feel a sense of achievement, restoring self-esteem and allowing them to develop their organisational skills and encouraging them to become a leader rather than a follower in the classroom.”
It can be daunting to be told your child is not coping in a mainstream school environment, but Astra says it is important that parents don’t deny that the challenges exist, but rather work with the teacher to find them the right support.
About Eden Academy
Astra is the founding principal of Eden Academy, which will be opening its doors in Foxhill, Salt Rock in January 2020. Eden Academy is a contemporary, mainstream school with an integrated remedial or LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) unit.
Details: 032 815 0513 / [email protected] / www.eden-academy.co.za