29 July 2008

Learning whilst Playing

With all the lovely hot and sunny weather the chances are that your children are busy playing outside and you may be thinking that there is no time for learning.

At Littlesheep Learning, we have the solution for children learning colours, shapes, numbers and letters with our range of learning beanbags. These can be used in the garden and children can learn whilst they are playing and probably not even realise it! Take a look here for lots of bean bag learning ideas and have fun.

Order your colour, shape, number or letter beanie bags today and save 10% in our special relocation sale (offer ends 31st July 2008).

15 July 2008

Moving Sale

At the end of the month Littlesheep Learning is relocating, therefore we have a special sale to reduce the amount of stock we need to move! Items are available whilst stocks last and offers include lots of educational games which are great for keeping your children entertained during wet days in the school holidays and getting them to learn and practice skills without realising it.

Offers end on 30th June and no orders will be despatched from 1st-10th August whilst we settle in and complete a stock take. Unfortunately this move means that some items will be out of stock for longer than usual, please contact us if you need something that is out of stock and we will try and let you know an expected restocking date.

13 July 2008

Building Self-Esteem

I have a friend who has a little boy with autism and she has had a great idea for building self-confidence. For the last few months she has been taking photos of him doing things, things he found difficult, was worried about or things he's just good at and enjoyed. We've stuck them in a book called 'I Can Do It' book. There is so much in every day life he finds hard, so many things we take for granted that he struggles with, makes him anxious or has to learn from scratch so thought it would be a nice idea to celebrate all the things he can do. He is a technophile so she has also made this photo montage of the photos in his book and set it to music. Shine is his favourite Take That track though the lyrics are quite appropriate too! Here it is:

If you like this idea and make your own books - please share them with us here - we'd love to see them.

11 July 2008

The Queen's Birthday Honours (Part 2)

Ever since browsing the Queen's Birthday Honours recipients after seeing that Mr Tumble (Justin Fletcher) was given an award I've been meaning to post about the awarding of an OBE to Virginia Bovell. I like most others who have been involved in ABA will have heard of / met / been supported by Virginia - she is a truly inspirational woman and this award is very well deserved.

Virginia Bovell, is one of the Advisers and a member TreeHouse school’s governing body, and she has received an OBE for “voluntary services to autistic children”. TreeHouse is the national charity for autism education.

She said: “The OBE is a real honour but I feel that anything I’ve done is because of team work with a brilliant group of colleagues – not just TreeHouse and the National Autistic Society but hundreds of parents, some very dedicated MPs and professionals, and of course the inspiration offered by the children themselves. I see the OBE as recognition of the importance of children with autism, an incredibly marginalized group.”

Virginia’s work as an autism activist began when Danny, her son who is now 15, was diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday. Having been told that early educational intervention was the best way Danny could unlock his potential, Virginia found that there were no such services on offer. Together with three other parents in similar situations, TreeHouse was founded. Over the past ten years it has grown from a special school for four founding pupils in a room in the Royal Free Hospital, into the national charity for autism education. TreeHouse’s school in North London now has 62 children and the charity actively campaigns for better services and provides training and consultancy in the field of autism on a national scale.

But the story does not end there. Virginia has been involved full-time in the autism movement, helping parents to campaign across the UK; writing and speaking about autism; and also being involved in a range of academic and Government autism initiatives.

Virginia went on to say: “In the past 10 years the recognised prevalence of autism has risen to 1%, so autism will touch most people directly or indirectly – every school, every street, is likely to have a child with autism. Awareness has improved but there is still so much to be done. Nearly a third of children with autism are excluded from school at some point in their youth, largely because autism is still very much a misunderstood condition and most teachers are still not getting anything like the necessary training. My hope is that one day everyone with autism, children and adults, will access the support they need without having to fight for it, as valued and fulfilled participants in society.”

Congratulations Virginia

Speech Testing

I've just been reading sbout the government-commissioned Bercow review of speech and language services which says improving communication skills is key to raising educational standards. The report suggests that all children should be assessed for speech problems at the start of primary and secondary school.

Up to half the children in some areas of England have significant problems, but many have to fight for support. Ministers accepted the points raised by the review and announced a £40m package for the training of early years staff and a further £12m will be spent on implementation and a plan would be published in the autumn, says the government's response.

Conservative MP John Bercow's review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs suggests about 40,000 children, or 7%, are starting primary school in England each year with significant difficulties with speech and or language, but the rates are much higher in areas of social deprivation, with up to 50% having speech and language skills lower than expected for their age, the report says. Without the help they need these children will do worse at school, could develop emotional and behavioural problems and may descend into criminality, it argues. Mr Bercow said families faced a "postcode lottery" of provision and shortages of speech experts in most areas of the country. He said communication skills that were essential to life were not being prioritised in schools, especially in the early years. "This is severely hampering children's ability to develop the necessary life skills to participate in and contribute to society when they get older," he added. Experts argue, however, that with early intervention and the right support most communication problems can be overcome. Ministers accepted that more surveillance and monitoring of children's language skills were needed, but suggested extra training of early years staff would enable them to better pick up language problems.

The report also suggested that Sir Jim Rose should be asked to see how a speech and language focus could be put into primary schools as part of his review of the primary curriculum.
Children's secretary Ed Balls said it was clear that local services needed to improve and that he was convinced improvements could now be made.

The report also makes recommendations on how services best be provided. It finds that there is a lack of strategic planning and oversight of what is needed in many local areas, this should be better organised, so it suggests a named person should have the responsibility for commissioning communication provision in each local area. It also calls for a communication champion or tsar, charged with driving things forward, to be appointed and a communication council be established to develop over-arching policy and ensure the implementation of the review. There should be a significant national campaign on the issue building up to a national year of speech, language and communication.