Sunday, 13 April 2014

L is for Learning Support Assistants, Language and Literacy.

I am sorry but I am going to be off the grid for the next couple of days and as it is Monday over here in jolly old England I will post early knowing it will show as Sunday on the blog.

Ionce was a LSA and so began my journey into teaching.  I worked closely with a wonderful teacher who taught me, respected my strengths and allowed me to spread my wings and a kind, insightful headteacher who valued all staff and wanted them to be the best that they could be.  I loved working with children in small groups, doing exciting, interesting things with them and creating resources to help them learn and I got the total joy of having time to spend with them that allowed them to talk to me about what they had done, liked, wanted out of life etc. 
When I became a teacher this changed, due to the numbers of children in my class, and I couldn’t give the more individual attention when children needed it and I had to rely on my LSAs to do this.  Good LSAs are worth their weight in gold and I have been privileged to have worked with so many.  Caring and compassion are values children need to have around them to allow them to take risks and not be afraid of failure. 

I find now that time for LSAs to have conversations with children is rapidly diminishing too in this world where we are striving to educate children in every second they are at school.  It is sad that things that mean so much to children can have no time to be spoken about and I fear that this will lead to further problems for many of them that have no other adult they can turn to in their lives.  It is no wonder that when I go into the dining hall I have many children saving me a space next to them so that we can chat and they can tell me all about what has happened to them!

If children do not have the language skills they need as they enter school, they stand a big risk of falling rapidly behind their peers.  Not understanding what others mean because you do not have a wide enough vocabulary and not being able to communicate with others because you have not developed the social conventions and skill of language causes many problems including those relating to behaviour.  As I have previously blogged, we are now in the process of screening all children and setting up language interventions for those who need it in our early years (3-5 year old) classes. 

However, we still have many problems associated with language in our older years and trying to give children the same language as their peers when they have missed so many intervening stages is really difficult.  Time spent in small groups with LSAs gives many of these children the chance to be understood and refine their language to express themselves adequately but they need a lot of time to practise this and this cannot be provided in a mainstream school involving class lessons where the teacher has to deliver lessons with pace built on the majority and not the minority.  This is where the support of other LSAs working within the class is so important to be able to restructure language for those children so that they understand what is happening or what is expected of them. 

I recall very clearly the literacy lessons I taught many years ago, to my class of 30 children, centred around Ted Hughes’ “The Iron Man”. I had a child joining the school age 9 from a different country and very little English – I endeavoured to draw as Ted Hughes read his book (thank goodness I had a tape recorder and a tape to play!) The attention of all children focused on the drawings including the particular child I was doing this for and their remembering was so much better particularly when they re-enacted chapters we had read out in drama and dance because they truly understood what the words meant and even the child with little English was engaged and could join in to a great extent.

TpT resources L is for Literacy

Check out


  1. I love the idea of acting out and listening to help learn ... with so much digital stuff around the old style of doing things probably has more impact.
    Fil at Fil’s Place - Old Songs and Memories

    1. I think children like interacting with each other and sharing their ideas rather than just writing all the time and if you think about it that's what we tend to do as adults rather than all of us having to write everything down.

  2. Wow! I liked your approach to teach and to make it simpler and earier to understand for that child.
    Hope you are having a great time reading, writing and connecting with fellow A to Zers :)
    PS : A suggestion : You must do away with the word verification or captcha from your comments as it is a bit cumbersome for the visitors :)

    A Rose is a Rose is a Rose!
    Co-Host AJ's wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014

    1. Thank you for your comments - I'll try to figure out how to turn off the word verification.

  3. Teacher who love their job are the best teachers in the world. How can you help children learn if you don't love working with them?

    Following from Blogging AtoZ.
    I'm writing "Things My Husband Has Broken" A to Z at
    Come by and check it out.

    1. Totally agree Kimberly - think your blog sounds great so will be over to check it out.