Teaching and learning strategies

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

​​​“This section explains how teachers can effectively engage with early-year, middle-year and older students.

Children in care may struggle to control their emotions more than other children. Assisting them to understand their feelings and develop appropriate responses to emotional situations is a key task for both teachers and carers.

By the time Jeff came into care he was seven years old. He had no regular sleeping pattern, and could stay awake for 30 or 40 hours at a stretch, then curl up and sleep wherever he happened to be at the time for six to 14 hours." - Margaret, carer.​

Teaching strategies

Student emotional and psychological wellbeing can have a considerable impact on learning engagement and academic performance. For students who have experienced trauma, fostering a calm, predictable and flexible classroom environment is critical. Trauma can impact the capacity of students to regulate their emotions and impulses, particularly when under stress. This can lead to emotional outbursts and challenging behaviours in classrooms and in playground settings with peers.

Classroom strategies for students with self-regulation and sensory integration difficulties

Positive, encouraging and consistent student-teacher relationships are fundamental building blocks to strong educational engagement, achievement and student wellbeing in the classroom. For students who have experienced trauma, these can become some of the most important, stable and enriching relationships in their lives – and are very much the gateways to learning. Through these relationships, teachers have the capacity to:

  • Foster nurturing, flexible, predictable and stimulating learning environments
  • Demonstrate empathy and acceptance
  • Champion, value and nourish students’ talents and strengths
  • Promote fun and creativity
  • Act as mentors and role models
  • Support peer connectedness and belonging
  • Encourage and model adaptive and prosocial ways of responding to stress and challenges

A relationship-based approach to supporting students who have experienced Trauma

Early years

Impulse control is a skill many children develop naturally around the age of four, but this may not be the case for children in care. Many will have had poor modelling in their family home, as well as experiences of abuse, that may make controlling their emotions difficult.

Strategies:

  • ensure children are appropriately challenged intellectually
  • build personal best measures into assessments so students can experience success
  • provide a structure for social interaction (e.g. games or activities at lunchtime).

Middle years

Children begin to develop key communication and social skills in their middle years. At this stage the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people is crucial for learning. Children in care may exhibit a lack of social skills leading to isolation and anti-social behaviour.

Strategies:

  • building supportive relationships and a sense of belonging to the school
  • providing skills and opportunities to communicate with a range of peers and adults
  • assisting children to identify and build on their skills and interests
  • encouraging children to learn through the delivery of challenging, engaging curriculum.

Older students

Older students may struggle with more complex learning tasks because they do not have the same basic knowledge as other students.

Strategies:

  • one-to-one support and the opportunity to ‘check in' with teachers
  • private sessions used to break up tasks into smaller, more manageable sections
  • identifying areas of the curriculum in which they can demonstrate their skills.

Learning mentoring

Identifying an adult who can act as a mentor is an effective teaching strategy for children of all ages.

This person, as well as offering direct support, can assist the child by encouraging them to interact with other people in the school, building a network of support.

For information about the role, how the learning mentor can support young people in Out-of-Home Care, see: Out-of-Home Care

Excursions and extra-curricular activity

Children and young people in care can regularly miss out on these opportunities as they are required to gain consent from their legal guardian.

Legal guardianship of the child may be held by the person or people providing day-to-day care or may rest with the biological parent or the Department of Human Services.

If the carer is not the guardian, it can take several days or longer for a consent form to be returned to the school.

It is important to plan ahead so that children in OOHC do not miss out on these valuable opportunities.