Trenton’s Reading and Spelling Difficulties
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Trenton’s Reading and Spelling Difficulties


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Select one of the case studies below. Reflect upon the behaviour displayed and describe the approaches you could use to guide and support the child. While these scenarios present complex issues which relate to ethnicity and culture, students are reminded that the focus of this Case Analysis is to explore the behaviour displayed.

Shannon is an eleven-year-old child who attends a primary school in a large city where you are her classroom teacher. Shannon has been discussed at the ‘students at risk’ meeting with all upper primary school and specialist teachers, as her attention to her academic work, and engaging with work in her classes, has started to diminish. Shannon is very social and appears to be very confident. She talks about her personal appearance and wanting to have the latest trends in fashion and make up. Shannon is very influential towards her peers and other girls within the school. It is noticeable that Shannon is speaking out of turn in class, and disrupting other students that are trying to work. She can additionally be disrespectful towards some of the specialist teaching staff. Shannon believes that certain teachers are ‘constantly picking’ on her. In many cases, Shannon's peers are willing to take the blame for her unacceptable behaviour. You have been trying to engage with her family but are not having any success—neither parent is responding to emails or phone calls.

Trenton has always been disgruntled with school. From his second year of primary school, Trenton was singled out in the classroom for his difficulty to read and spell. With the permission of his mother, the teacher in that primary school referred him to a specialist to have him assessed for Autism. The psychologist reported that there were no signs of Autism. Trenton continued to struggle with school. His mother decided to move him to another government primary school so that he could have a fresh start at learning. Trenton continued to have difficulties with reading and spelling, and one teacher said to him that he would never amount to anything. He did find some refuge when some funding was secured for Trenton to receive the support of a Teaching Aide in class to develop his literacy skills. Trenton made some steady progress for a year and then the Teaching Aide moved to another school, student numbers dropped, and the funding ceased. Trenton is now in Grade 5 and is showing more signs of disengagement and refusing to do the work asked of him in class. Trenton thrives in an environment where he can experience ‘hands on’ learning. He loves making things and tinkering in the shed with his grandfather. Trenton hates school and can't wait to leave so that he can do an apprenticeship and become a carpenter like his grandfather.

Jenna is an eight-year-old student in Grade 3 who is usually outstanding in all areas of her school work. She experienced a family tragedy when she was six and is now showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has started to withdraw in class and she is forgetting school work that she learnt in previous years. Jenna's organisational skills at school are regressing. She forgets to bring her recorder to music class, and now she never fills out her reading blog for the week. Jenna decided that she didn't want to do the ‘optional’ homework last week, even though she always managed to complete and enjoy these tasks in the past. Jenna is currently making little progress at school and her class teacher is concerned about her wellbeing. The class teacher is not sure how to best approach the situation.

When approaching your case study response, remember that you have a snap shot of information about the learner. Therefore, careful consideration is needed when providing strategies and identifying reasons for the behaviour. An exemplary case analysis will provide:

  • identification and discussion of a variety of effective strategies and interventions that could support the learner in the case study in the learning environment to make decisions and guide their own behaviour
  • identification of how you would prepare the physical and social environment to contribute to the child's relationship with others and learning
  • identification of familial, cultural and ethical considerations related to the case
  • identification of how you can make effective use of policy frameworks and external support organisations
  • consideration and discussion of the behaviour framework, strategy and model you would apply for your chosen case study

discussion of theories that have been used to guide approaches to behaviour management.



Trenton, a primary school child has been facing difficulties in reading and spelling since his inception at school. Initial diagnosis led to the belief that he may be autistic. However, a specialist report by a psychologist denied any signs of autism in him. Trenton has been the victim of discouraging comments as well as inept approach towards teaching from adults. This has caused him to develop an unfavourable attitude towards school and studies in general. It has also been observed that Trenton performs well when it comes to hands-on learning and has shown an inclination towards a career involving physical and creative skills. This paper will analyse Trenton's case and suggest active change in teaching methodologies with the help of the latest policies and frameworks declared by the Australian government.



From the above case history, it is clearly evident that Trenton is showing signs of social withdrawal, an alarming trait in a child his age (Rubin, et al., 2009). According to Skinner's theory of behavior, human behaviour is influenced by antecedent and postcedent events (Vargas, 2015). Trenton's peers should be advised to interact with him and invite him over to play with them (Coplan, et al., 2004). Interaction with peers helps children develop an attachment to their schools which is found lacking in Trenton (Erikson, et al., 1985). As per the Sociocultural Theory of education propounded by the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, human cognition and learning were more related to social and cultural factors than individual phenomena (Kozulin et al., 2003).

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