For some children, learning is not a positive cycle of success. No matter their efforts, they are caught in the lower quartile of the classroom and cannot keep pace with their peers. These difficulties are often compounded by other factors such as socio-economic background or chronic absenteeism.
Children learn and embed information at their own pace and the same is true for fundamental physical skills. For some students sitting composed at their desk while listening to instructions, reading from the board, holding their pencil and writing down answers comes easily but for others it is a real challenge. Confident learners will be thinking about the task in hand and what their answer is going to be, for other students however they are using all their cognitive capacity on the physical parts of the task, sitting down still, holding the pencil. Concentration is limited to how long they feel physically comfortable for and STEP works by incrementally improving this for those students.
Have you ever watched a class of primary school children walking down a staircase? You will notice some of them walking straight down the middle, thinking about where they are going to next, chatting with their friends. Others will still be walking 2 feet to each step, holding tightly to the hand rail and concentrating intently and others slouched, bouncing against the wall as they almost slide down the stairs.
Put simply, a child’s physical literacy is their ability to think and act simultaneously. The STEP Program works by using repetitive exercises in balance, eye-tracking and coordination to embed the skills needed to become better learners, skills such as sitting down, standing still in a line, putting their hand up, following words or holding objects. It introduces thinking tasks alongside the physical skills gradually improving their physical literacy.
Poor eye-tracking is a common problem amongst students who struggle with reading. Whilst most children progress out of the need to finger follow words or move their heads as they read lines in a book up to 20% of them wont. Do you notice that some of your students find reading very tiring and physically uncomfortable?
Eye-tracking exercises have been used in many interventions. By improving a child’s ability to focus you are lessening the physical burden on them faced when reading. Increasing their peripheral vision gives greater ability to see upcoming words. The less physical effort they have to put in to reading, the more energy they can spend on processing and comprehension. It also gives them greater awareness and understanding of their physical surroundings.
Unlike traditional interventions that usually involve spending more time on numeracy, literacy or spelling in a small group or one-to-one setting, the STEP Program focuses on the development of the whole child. For a student who doesn’t enjoy numeracy the idea of spending more time working on it is not appealing. Their self-confidence in their ability to achieve rapidly erodes.
Children engage readily with their STEP sessions as they feel very different from traditional learning. Being individual to each student it is non-competitive so every child sees success each day. By improving the underlying physical capabilities that some children lack in order to be able to learn and benefit from quality teaching and educational resources, schools are giving their students the ability to unlock their potential and succeed with confidence.
The STEP Program is hosted online and every student enrolled follows their own individual journey. STEP contains over 350 specific exercises delivered through an adaptive learning software platform. Adaptive learning means that the system decides what physical challenge the student will undertake next based on their previous performance so they are moving at exactly their own pace. The essential elements of STEP are:
Almost any student aged 7-13 could benefit from the STEP Program but the greatest impact is seen by those students in the first quartile of the classroom, particularly the ones whose academic attainment is not commensurate with their ability. These children are frequently from the poorest socio-economic backgrounds too. The optimum age for students to begin STEP is 8 so that they can benefit from improved learning whilst still in primary education before the attainment gap widens further when they enter secondary learning.
STEP has benefited many children with a learning difficulty diagnosis such as ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia but it is not specifically a SEND intervention. Some schools have elected to adopt the Program across the breadth of classroom capabilities due to the holistic benefits gained by participants in addition to academic gain.
Schools are frequently being questioned over how effective the use of teacher assistants is in the classroom setting. At STEP we are delighted to say that all our schools report that training their classroom assistants to become STEP Mentors is a very effective use of their time with some describing it as the most effective use of this resource.
Teacher assistants often spend a lot of time with struggling students, supporting them while they complete their work and managing behaviour challenges in the classroom. Delivering STEP allows your school’s supporting staff to directly impact on student development, being part of a success cycle that translates directly into classroom improvements. Working through STEP builds and strengthens trust between the students and mentors too.
“STEP is a very interesting Program that works well to remediate some of the underlying difficulties that affect children’s’ learning. Where such weaknesses were causing barriers to a child’s learning the impact of the Program has been very noticeable with benefits across the curriculum and to self-esteem.”
“STEP has been a real success for some children - previously they lacked the confidence or the ability to focus, preventing them from participating fully in lessons. STEP has allowed children a chance to get involved and opened up the number of learning opportunities available to them.”
“With top compliance and super effort from the children, we had some fantastic results. Every child benefitted in their own individual way and with regards to their own individual needs. To see how far the children have come and what they have achieved in such a short time has amazed us all.”
Let your school benefit from taking a positive STEP. Train a teacher, teaching assistant, or cover supervisor today and start the physical literacy Program that matters.