Specific learning difficulties affecting one or more area of learning which may result in formal assessment diagnosis

Suggested strategies and links.

Strategies and approaches:

  • Assessment through observations of child-led play and playful adult directed tasks to identify the areas of need.
  • Support the child to learn short achievable tasks by modelling and giving lots of encouragement.
  • Teach metacognition approaches (how we learn) e.g. ask children to think in advance about how they will accomplish a task. Talk through and sequence the stages together.
  • Understand the children’s difficulties with learning in consultation with the child and parents, including finding out what works well at home.
  • Adopt a neuro-diverse approach to celebrate the strengths of each child.
  • Recognise and celebrate success in effort and show interest in other areas of their life.
  • Work closely with the SENCO and other specialist staff to understand what strategies or approaches to use in line with advice from assessments or consultation.
  • Use evidence-based interventions to develop skills e.g., increase hand muscle and finger dexterity to support mark making.
  • Link learning to real world situations.

To support memory:

  • Provide memory aids e.g. visual cues and timetables referring to these regularly throughout the day, ensure that these are readily available to the child and moved frequently to enable accessibility.
  • Provide practical resources to support learning appropriate to the stage of development. For example, in reception classes you may want to use name cards, letter/number formation resources and rhymes.
  • Ensure your setting has a consistent routine, supporting children with changes when necessary.
  • Support children visually and kinaesthetically when changes in their environment occur. For example, allow extra time at tidy up time, allocate specific tasks at tidy up time, repeating activities.
  • Ensure resources are clearly labelled with pictures and words and are at the child’s level allowing independence.
  • Provide photographs  of the setting including important people, such as  keyworker, teacher, teaching assistant, and the environment, such as where their put their coat, water bottle, lunch box, book bag for home, so that these can be shared with the child at home.

For literacy difficulties:

  • Ensure indoor and outdoor opportunities are provided and across all areas of learning.
  • Encourage and support the child’s responses to picture books and stories you read with them.
  • Use different voices to tell stories and encourage the child to join in wherever possible for example leaving gaps in repeated refrains.
  • Tell stories in a variety of ways, for example the child use pictures to tell the story, make picture scrap books so they can design their own stories, use puppets or small world to tell stories, or use the child‘s ideas to build interactive imaginative stories.
  • Be creative where stories are sharing using all areas of the indoor and outdoor environment.
  • Include opportunities for mark making and writing across all areas of provision and play.
  • Consider peers within small group experiences so the child has access to good role models for language and communication.
  • In reception classes, consider use of appropriate learning resources e.g. pencil grips, spelling aids and alternative methods for recording information including verbal and ICT methods.
  • Provide opportunities and experiences for children to build on their understanding through repetition with skilful adults scaffolding learning.

For numeracy difficulties:

  • Indoor and outdoor opportunities are provided and across all areas of learning.
  • Sing counting songs and rhymes using visual aids/cues which help to support children’s understanding of number, such as ‘5 Little Speckled Frogs’
  • Use pictures and objects to illustrate counting songs, rhymes and number stories, cooking activities.
  • Provide collections of interesting things for children to sort, order, count and label in their play.
  • Ensure mathematical language is embedded throughout the environment and used in all play and routine opportunities.
  • Support children to gain an understanding of individual number sense, e.g. the ‘twoness of 2’ – I have 2 hands, 2 eyes, I can collect 2 objects etc.  

In reception classes:

  • Provide access to concrete resources e.g.  counting objects, number lines, Numicon etc.
  • Use concrete resources to develop number knowledge before teaching number symbols.
  • Extend the child’s number understanding so they can confidently demonstrate the ‘twoness of 2’ e.g. 1 more than 1 is 2, one less than 3 is 2, double 2 is 4.

For developmental co-ordination difficulties (previously known as dyspraxia) please see the Sensory and Physical Needs section.


What is Metacognition?  

Helicopter Stories

Objective led planning

Planning for continuous provision

Planning for continuous provision reception and year 1