Creative Leaning Centre at Vaz excels
With a new school year just days away, many would have already purchased books, bags, shoes, uniforms and other material to optimise their child's learning. But how is the institution that your child will be attending prepared?
Five years ago, 65-year-old Vaz Preparatory School in Kingston opened the Creative Centre for Learning Strategies (CCLS).
The brainchild of the school's former principal, Beverley Ulett, the centre caters to children with special learning needs in a smaller, more controlled environment. And, so far, they have been seeing results.
According to current principal Karlene Bisnott, working with gifted children is not the sole focus of the school. "Over the years, the school has launched, to date, three programmes aimed at remedial coaching in reading and numeracy. The Creative Centre is, however, the programme of which we are most proud. This is because it embodies our belief in the philosophy that no child should be left behind, regardless of aptitude. Once a child in the main school is identified as being in need of individualised help, he or she is placed in The Creative Centre. There we emphasise learning strategies to help them overcome their particular challenges. If they improve during the year, we return them to the regular classroom. If not, they stay on for another year before being reintegrated. Located on premises adjoining the main campus, the Creative Centre currently has 14 students, with a capacity to host 25."
Bisnott continued: "The team strives towards developing and moulding the whole child. In using this holistic approach, we aim at building a rounded child. Hence, our lessons are being prepared and tailored to meet each student based on their performance and ability level, rather than their chronological grade level. On meeting the prescribed criteria at the end of our two-year individualised programme, students are usually reintegrated into a regular classroom setting. However, there are instances where they are retained for various reasons."
While no single technique or set of techniques is sufficient in teaching these students, at the CCLS they have developed instructional strategies that specifically address the learning needs of each student. In doing so, an Individualised Education Programme (IEP) is carefully and skilfully designed based on the recommendations that are made by a psychologist in a Psycho Educational report, and incorporating the strengths of the student capped with their dominant learning style (kinetic, auditory, tactile or visual).
This is geared towards catering to and making accommodations for their area or areas of deficits.
Listed below are some techniques/strategies that are being implemented at the centre.
• Differentiated classroom instruction.
• Lessons are developed to incorporate students' interests, needs and experiences.
• Materials are modified to meet each student's individualised needs.
• The use of educational games, puzzles, and other reinforcement techniques are incorporated into the curriculum.
• Heavy use of multiple modalities (eg, auditory, visual, tactile) when giving directions, explanations, and information to students.
• Co-operative/Collaborative learning, peer tutoring, and one-on-one instruction.
• Differentiated curriculum.
• Computer-assisted learning programmes.
Vaz Preparatory is located at 11 1/2 Dunoon Road Kingston 2. Telephone: 928-1226. Email: http://www.vazprep.edu.jm.