Educational Therapy (ET) provides a specialised intervention for children with difficulties in Literacy, Maths or cognitive functioning. It works by first identifying a child’s academic and/or cognitive weaknesses. This can be done through consultation with parents and teachers, talking to the student about what they find difficult, a short standardised assessment, or reading reports produced by (for example) an Educational Psychologist.
Once it is known how and why a child is struggling, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be written by the educational therapist working with the child. The IEP sets realistic and achievable goals to be worked towards, which are regularly reviewed and updated as they are met. The IEP may also take into account information provided by other professionals such as Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and counsellors.
ET sessions work on achieving the goals outlined in the IEP by providing one-one support, targeting the exact combination of Literacy, Maths or cognitive abilities with which a child is struggling. ET uses a creative approach that suits the age, interests and needs of a child. It combines specialised Literacy and Maths programs with engaging, multisensory activities that develop specific skills. The use of concrete materials is also important to support the development of understanding.
ET further works by addressing any underlying cognitive weaknesses such as memory, planning or speed of processing, which may be impeding a child’s learning or causing problems in daily life. ET can teach children strategies which allow them to use their strengths in their learning and manage their weaknesses. ET supports development by providing as much guidance, structured practice and revision as a child needs to master a skill, and then to generalise that skill to other areas.
ET works best when the therapist can liaise and share information with parents, school teachers and learning support staff, and any other therapists working with a child. As such, ET works by simultaneously improving academic performance, developing cognitive skills, and boosting a child’s motivation and confidence as they enjoy their own increasing independence and success.
Author: Victoria Hobbs, Educational Therapist