Technology tools can be a wonderful resource in these situations, providing a way of meeting individual needs and helping to reduce stress and anxiety which can often accompany times of change for some learners.
For example, some learners who are on the autism spectrum find it challenging to manage changes in routine while others experience difficulty in managing the frequent communication demands which are so much part and parcel of life in the average primary classroom.
Some learners, too, have trouble processing information that they hear and do far better when that information is reinforced with visual input.
With the requirement placed on all teachers to provide meaningful and appropriate learning experiences that meet the needs of all learners in a classroom situation, the ability to use technology to support learning and reduce stress and anxiety is a critical one.
Technology tools which can be used quickly, efficiently and which have application across a range of learning environments as well as in the home are ideal as they are more likely to be used frequently and less likely to fall by the wayside when someone doesn’t know how to save, update, charge or troubleshoot within the operating system.
Developing systems which can then provide a stronger structure and support a daily or weekly routine can be quickly and easily achieved nowadays, without needing to cover your desk with Post-it notes or write endless daily timetables out for students who may or may not remember to use them.
Programs such as Boardmaker can assist with developing visual schedules, activity charts, booklets, communication supports and chat books, all of which are useful for students who have additional learning needs or who operate better in situations where they can anticipate what is coming up in their day.
Symbols are copied from a standard symbol set which becomes very familiar for the children using them on a regular basis, and text can be added to enhance meaning.
The symbols and associated text are then used in whatever fashion suits the learner and learning situation, as they can be used on a screen or printed and made into cards or charts as required.
A chat book, for example, uses pictures and short statements about familiar topics that can support a conversation for a young person who finds it difficult to communicate with others in daily social situations.
A visual schedule uses pictures and text, or pictures alone to show what is happening during a day. The schedule can be adjusted to suit changes in class, activity or teacher or for special days or events.
Providing a child with a visual schedule helps reduce the stress which can arise if they are surprised by an activity or there is a last minute change.
Some teachers find it useful to have a box where completed daily tasks can be posted from the visual schedule to reinforce that the activity has been completed for the day. The child can then clearly see what is coming up next, as it is the next thing shown on the visual schedule.