Mountain Movers is a charity I set up to help families like mine who are electively home educating children with complex needs. I initially thought it would be very niche, but it exploded and there are a lot more of us now. We offer different activities, social groups, and provide parents with access to resources to help them educate their children – one of them being Clicker.
I was first introduced to Clicker when my middle son was in school, where he was able to use Clicker 6. When we decided to home educate, it was one of the main resources I really missed. There was a special discount run on Clicker 7 several years ago, which I jumped on – and we haven’t looked back since!
One of the reasons we upgraded to Clicker 8 was to support a new project I’ve started that focuses on wellbeing and mindfulness. I wanted to bring the lovely ability that Clicker has to empower children – that they can hear their own words, recognise their mistakes and self-edit what they’ve written – to the children at Mountain Movers.
We are also interested in helping parents get to grips with Clicker, especially LearningGrids and the different Clicker Sets. We knew it would take some time for the parents to get their heads around Clicker, because it’s quite a bit different from other word processors. Fortunately, this wasn’t a huge problem; the training videos and webinars on Crick’s website have been an absolute godsend. Once we helped the parents understand that they needed to put in a little bit of time and effort to make Clicker individualised for their child’s needs, they absolutely loved it.
Although we focus on children with additional needs, we always make sure we’re including everybody who wants to participate. For children who may otherwise feel disengaged by literacy tasks, Clicker is a real confidence booster because it gives them a medium to express themselves.
For example, as part of our Mindfully Creative project, we had the children create their own characters and give them a backstory. Over the course of the project, their understanding of setting, characters’ personality traits, etc. all developed substantially, and they were able to put what they learnt into practise. One of the children wrote a lovely fantasy-inspired story for his character using Clicker. He recorded the words he wanted to use and created the supportive Word Bank by himself to write two pages! If left with a pen and paper, his output would have been very limited, but by using Clicker his creativity shone through.
We’re using Clicker right across our curriculum. For example, in our science lessons we have the children use Clicker to write up what they have learnt, or we encourage them to download the science sets from LearningGrids to reinforce what they’ve learnt. We’re hoping that through the range of projects we’re doing we can demonstrate that Clicker isn’t just useful for literacy, it’s a tool for everything.
I’ve also personally used the new Cloze Documents with my children and I’m loving them. I know that parents really like the helpful feedback and information provided by Clicker Analytics too. It’s a great reporting tool for them, and it gives them the insight to understand what their child is struggling with and where they need to go.
One of the other pieces of feedback we’ve received is how much children have benefited from the Picturize function. If they didn’t know a word, the picture next to it would help them to recognise what it was. It’s a really positive and non-confrontational way of helping them build on their literacy and reading skills.
The best thing about Clicker is the fact that you can use it for any situation. Parents love that you can adapt it to any subject and tailor it to each child, that you can see where they’re at and what they need to develop. It’s such a positive, self-esteem-building piece of software. These children might feel very vulnerable and like they can’t do anything academic, when actually they’ve got so much potential – they just need a different way of being able to show it. That, for me, is what I love about Clicker.
If you spend the time to understand what Clicker can do, it will be hugely empowering for the kids. It will transform what can sometimes be a battleground for children into a fun activity. It’s definitely worth the time and investment because once you’ve done it, the sky’s the limit and the kids just flow with it.