Back in 2013, I completed a placement in a special educational needs school. I did it for 6 months, one day a week (which was a shame!). The school educated children from the age of 3 up to the age of 19. They were educated in terms of age and ability, without it being noticeable! I worked with the 5-11 year olds, so I jumped between classes. I got to shadow one of the younger classes once and one of the older classes too. I also got to help out in the playground at break time and lunchtime, which I really enjoyed. I used to rush my dinner so I could get outside! The children had various disabilities and difficulties, ranging from mild to severe.
I’d start at 8.30am and help set up the classroom and find out what I would be doing that day. Sometimes I’d do Yoga in the morning with the younger ones and sometimes we’d dance to music. At 8.45am, the children would start to come in and we’d start promptly at 9am. After the register and a lot of chatter about what they’d done the night before, it would be time for the children to move to their respective classes for their first lesson, which was always MATHS! I learnt a lot from these lessons actually and quite enjoyed them. Upon reflection though, I know I helped them too much, so they weren’t doing it as independently as they could have. I’m just too kind sometimes.
We’d have a break after Maths, for 15 minutes. Where the children would be able to go and play outside.
Next came English. It was my favourite lesson in school so obviously I enjoyed these lessons too. Some of the children moved again and some stayed where they were. While I was there, we wrote stories and poetry and even did a play, which was fun. On one occasion I got to watch the whole class in assembly do their play. They did some of it in Makaton, which is signs and symbols made by the hands to mean something. It was really sweet!
Then it was lunchtime. As I said before I always rushed this part, as I wanted to get outside and interact with the children. I enjoyed being called ‘Miss’, every two minutes to be honest! Something I could have gotten used to!
After lunch, we had circle time within the registered classes and sometimes had free play. Then it was time for Science, Art and the Environment. The children got to do science, Art or learn about the environment i.e. geography. It depended on the structure of the lessons, although it was usually combined. I really enjoyed these lessons as it was relaxed.
At 3pm, the children got to go home and I did too. I would have gladly stayed and helped plan the lessons etc, but alas it was not my job on placement so I used to toddle off home.
This was the placement that opened my eyes to working with children with disabilities and the rewards that it can bring. I felt an enormous amount of pride everyday for the children and I don’t think that is something I would get anywhere else in my opinion. Though I know every job can be rewarding in its own way and working with other service user groups can be rewarding too. For me though, working with children with disabilities and learning difficulties gave me a lot more satisfaction.
Hope you enjoyed reading about my placement experience. 🙂