Gwyn McCormack from Positive Eye has generously submitted a series of ‘Top Ideas’, which we will be sharing each month. Gwyn worked for many years as a teacher, first in mainstream secondary school and then as a Qualified Teacher of Vision Impairments.
She was inspired to set up Positive Eye by a passionate desire to improve outcomes for children with vision impairments. Through her work, she provides expert practical advice to help practitioners develop their skills and knowledge.
Through Positive Eye, Gwyn provides practical courses, resources and a unique product range that offer practically based, solution focused strategies and approaches.
This specific series is centred around the importance of concept development when teaching children who have a vision impairment. The ‘Top Ideas’ can be utilised by your child’s educational setting or by a parent wanting to give a little extra help with learning from home.
Concept development provides the foundation for all learning through which literacy skills can stem from:
- Concepts give meaning to language the child hears, speaks, reads and writes
- Concepts are a child’s understanding or mental representations of people, places, things and events,
- If you have a vision impairment, exposure to and reinforcement of essential everyday experiences in the early years, are crucial
As an illustrative example, let us consider something as simple as a wooden spoon.
We take the wooden spoon to the child and let them examine it for several minutes and then tick our checklist to confirm this concept is taught. The child has felt the texture of the spoon and knows its size so job done.
- Where has the spoon gone and where is it kept? Is that the only size of wooden spoon?
- Why do we use a wooden spoon?
- What other wooden cooking implements are available?
Have we given the child the in-depth, rich experience of the ‘woodeness of the wooden spoon’? Or have we just ticked the checklist to say they have felt a wooden spoon as part of many things on the list that require exploration.
It is crucial that we explore the ‘ness of the object, form and shape of as many people, places and activities.
Before Starting – Get Ready for Work
Get Ready to Work
- Reduce clutter, present one resource at a time
- Create plain black background
- Organise work area and maintain location of items
- Use high contrast resources
- Wear black t-shirt, black apron to present resources
- Consider background behind you – is it cluttered and distracting?
- Black Drona Storage Cube – IKEA
- Black Apron
Two images show Gwyn holding a Peppa Pig toy against a grey jumper, and then again against a black apron. The toy shows up much better against the black apron
Two images show a red chicken toy against a red background and a black background. The black background is much more effective.
The two other images show a clear work space, uncluttered and ready to start work.
Make the child with SEND the starting point for planning, NOT the ADD-ON