The Gifted Heart and Learning Support

At Kamaroi we ask the question “What sort of giftedness and talent does the world need?” We aim to lay the foundations for the development of the ‘gifted heart’ — a balance of intellect and ‘heartfelt’ thinking. We encourage children to imagine how things can be different, who see the world as a community and who can use their gifts and talents to ‘give back’.

Gifted students can include both children who may be more advanced than their peers, and require more challenges to keep them stimulated. It can also include those who are underachieving and who have learning difficulties and who require support from our specialist learning support.

We know that having a gift is not necessarily a privilege. Traditionally, children with abilities face challenges on their journey through school. They may have increased sensitivities or frustration. They may struggle to relate to their peers.

We recognise that every child is an individual and as such, has different learning needs. Our integrated curriculum provides for a number of different learning styles and we employ specific methods and strategies to identify each child’s needs at an early stage. Once identified, the class teacher, along with specialist teachers, provide enrichment and extension activities to meet the learning needs of ‘gifted’ students. This will include mentorship programmes, in both one to one and group sessions.

The Gifted Heart

The Main Lessons provide an enriched curriculum, providing a world picture that deals with the big issues of humanity.

The strong creative arts focus, the integrated learning approach and the fostering of a love of learning helps to give gifted and talented students the depth and breadth of learning that motivates them to achieve.

The curriculum aims at a balance between the faculties of thinking, feeling and willing: connecting intellectual activity with imaginative, artistic experience. We call this ‘cognitive feeling’ or ‘heart intelligence’.

The curriculum also recognizes the importance of developing a sense of purpose, particularly for those with learning difficulties. A strong will and self-motivation develops in an enriched environment, along with support from learning support specialists, working in partnership with parents. This allows the child to develop the ability to strive, to persevere and to tolerate ‘not knowing’.

Learning Support

We offer both a developmental and academic remediation approach — a unique approach that meets the needs of the whole child and is based on ever increasing research on the importance of movement in academic development.

Academic Remediation

We have a Literacy/Numeracy Support Program available to children from Class 1 upwards. Children are typically assessed following earlier developmental assessments and intervention programmes where specific remediation work required has been identified. It may parallel ongoing development support, such as building faculty and skills capacity, so that academic remediation may be more successfully integrated.

Developmental Approach

At Kamaroi our developmental movement program is called ‘Magic of Movement’. It is a Steiner-based, holistic, developmental approach to remediating learning difficulties. It is based on the work of Audrey McAllen who developed the Extra Lesson program.

The prime focus for this work is for children in kindergarten to class 2 or 3, who participate in weekly sessions with a specialist learning support teacher. This teacher is a trained ‘Extra Lesson’ practitioner, working to address underlying developmental difficulties. The program includes movement, co-ordination, speech, drawing and painting exercises.

The length of the program varies with each child but typically lasts for a minimum of 12 months.

What does it assess?

  1. Fine and gross motor skills
  2. Body geography and special awareness
  3. Rhythm in movement
  4. Eye movement screening
  5. Listening checks
  6. Primitive reflexes check
  7. Dominance and laterality assessment
  8. Balance assessment
  9. Midline assessment — the ability to cross hands over the centre line of the body which can be slow to develop in some children
  10. Observations of health and general well being
  11. Parent interview about early development and areas of concern

Other aspects addressed include

  1. Concentration and memory
  2. Behaviour — social/emotional impact and relating
  3. Speech
  4. Health issues

How it works

When a child presents one or a number of the signs listed below, the class teacher will approach parents, and together, they will work on a solution that best suits that particular child.

  1. Being easily distracted or having a short attention span
  2. Clumsiness or is accident prone
  3. Poor balance, lack of co-ordination or low muscle tone
  4. Difficulty remembering or following instructions
  5. Difficulty listening to parents and teachers (without having a hearing problem)
  6. Over emotional or hypersensitive behaviour
  7. Ambidextrous
  8. Difficulty learning or performing new tasks
  9. Performs below age level academically
  10. Avoids reading and handwriting tasks
  11. Has difficulty with social relationships

Why using movement works

Academic learning is linked to the many body systems that need integration in the early years for efficient learning. This includes the vestibular system, hearing, vision and touch systems. Each system has a part to play and has a set of skills, which need development in the early years of a child’s life, including: development of bi-laterality, eye-hand co-ordination, balance, etc. Without integration and development, weaknesses and challenges develop in the learner.