Our goal is to provide students with all the tools they need to be successful and engaged learners and to feel safe in meeting challenges. At various times, students may benefit from some additional support from our team of professionals. The Primary School has two Counsellors and two Learning Support teachers who work individually or in small group format with children identified by teachers and the Principal. Sometimes the support is short-term and sometimes of longer, consistent duration. The aim is to help students understand challenges they may face in their learning or emotional development, to learn and practice strategies and to advocate for themselves. One-on-one support does not take place without prior discussion with the child’s parents and their expressed permission. Small group work may sometimes be conducted as part of the fabric of the classroom life and permission is not sought – these are often short-lived sessions targeting some issues with social dynamics and bullying or assisting children with specific or new skills.
Sometimes children’s academic performance, focus or social interactions may be affected by stresses they experience in our complex world – changes in family structure, divorce, death of a loved one or pet, learning challenges, mismatch between a parent’s and child’s personality or expectations, etc. This may cause inappropriate, disrespectful or destructive behaviours, conflicts or withdrawal from social and collaborative interactions.
To help the child be more adjusted in the classroom environment, the services of a professional counsellor can be invaluable. Aspects of talk, play and art therapy are used.
In Primary, two qualified counsellors are available to work with children, usually individually and sometimes in groups. Usually, the referral for counselling comes from teachers and/or parents but, occasionally, older children may request such support themselves. The counsellors may be asked to observe the child in the classroom but individual counselling does not begin without discussion with the parents. In an unusual circumstance, a child might need to see a counsellor immediately – in such a case the Primary Principal assesses the need and communicates with the parents soon thereafter. Counselling sessions are usually once a week for 30-45 minutes but may be more frequent when necessary.
Generally, after several sessions, the counsellor meets with the parents to share feedback and suggest strategies to support the child at home. Often, suggestions are made for altering parenting techniques or for further evaluation of the child’s learning and emotional profile.
Students with learning differences or difficulties often benefit from additional work with one of the Learning Support teachers. In most cases, they offer support in literacy skills to combat the challenges faced by children with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language-based disorders. Sometimes skills in numeracy are also addressed. Along with the classroom teachers and the Principal, the LS teachers develop an IEP (Individual Education Plan) which indicates the skills and goals to be targeted and practiced. The plan is shared with the parents and suggestions for home support are made.
After several sessions, the LS teacher meets with the parents to give feedback. Some children may benefit from counselling along with the learning support. LS teachers may need further information about the child’s strengths, weaknesses and underlying causes for the difficulties – a psycho-educational evaluation may be required to gather this information. The LS teachers and counsellor make referrals to appropriate professionals outside school for this testing procedure.
LS teachers provide information and suggested strategies to classroom teachers. They may, at times, work with the student in the classroom setting as well. LS teachers include information on the child’s work and continued progress towards the goals in the progress reports in December and June. They are also available to meet with parents as necessary and they provide suggestions for parental support and activities at home.
Sometimes, teachers may ask a LS teacher to come into the classroom for a mini-lesson in literacy skills for a small group of children who do not need ongoing support but just short-term targeted work. No permission from parents is required as this is part of the classroom structure itself.
Joined B.D. Somani in 2019
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Mumbai University
Diploma in Pre-School Teachers’ Training, Sophia Polytechnic
Diploma in Special Education (Mental Retardation), Dilkush Special School
Certificate Course in Learning Disabilities, The Arya Vidya Mandir Institute of Special Education