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Visual Supports at Hirst Wood Nursery School
Widgit Symbols being used around the nursery to ensure equality of opportunity for all children
Hirst Wood Nursery School is based in the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, Bradford. The school has three classes of children aged 3-4 years. The nursery supports children to develop confidence, independence, and creativity through first-hand experiential learning in a rich, engaging environment...
The nursery has integrated Widgit Symbols into their continuous provision to ensure equality of opportunity for all children. Since starting to use Widgit Symbols, it has become clear that all young children benefit from the use of visual supports alongside spoken language. This means that symbol communication is no longer seen solely as an approach to support children with SEND as it can be used equally effectively with children who have typical language development.
Symbols have been used in the nursery to support:
All classroom and outdoor labels use Widgit symbols alongside a photograph of the object or location to help children navigate their environment and find what they are looking for.
The nursery uses a combination of ‘now and next’ boards and longer ‘start to finish’ timetables.
It is important to use the approach that best meets the needs of the child by introducing the symbols gradually and using photographs or objects of reference when necessary.
Consistency of approach across all classrooms is extremely important to consolidate the use of visuals and vocabulary. This enables children to anticipate, which in turn promotes feelings of security. We have also had positive feedback from parents who are using Widgit symbols at home to work in partnership with the school to provide consistency of approach for the child.
Widgit Online makes it easy for staff to create symbol routines. The children use the sequences to develop their independence for everyday activities such as dressing for outdoor play or putting on an apron for water play. Over time, this removes the need for constant adult repetition of instructions and it also means a more experienced peer can support a child to follow the visual sequence appropriately. As well as providing children with visual support, the pictorial instructions ensure that staff use a consistent approach and the same vocabulary to further reinforce the routines and expectations.
The nursery have devised a number of strategies to make sure that Widgit visuals are always available to provide support at the point that they are required; for example staff wear lanyards with key communication cards, vocabulary boards are placed in the areas of provision and ‘quick grab’ symbols are strategically positioned around the room. Well-placed resources maximise vocabulary development opportunities and ensure that transitions or frustrations can be supported quickly and effectively thus mitigating and pre-empting any potential difficulties.
One of the most successful applications of Widgit symbols at the school has been an emotions board. The children place their name card next to an emotions card at the beginning of the day. If their feelings change during the day it is suggested that they revisit the board to pictorially select an emotion that best describes how they are feeling. The board helps the children to process the situation and select a visual solution, for example; talk to a grown up, sit quietly or squeeze a toy. The use of visuals to talk about emotions as they arise enables children to link physical feelings to the abstract vocabulary of emotions building their repertoire of self-regulatory skills.
Rachel from Hirst Wood Nursery School:
" Widgit visuals have quickly become embedded within Hirst Wood Nursery School. The user friendly software and ability to upload photographs makes creating visuals stress-free. This ease of use combined with the positive impact on teaching, learning and behaviour has made whole school implementation easy.
All the practitioners love the flexibility and possibilities that Widgit provides and we would have no hesitation in recommending this approach to other settings."
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