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Walkie-talkies lead the way

Using two-way radios or "walkie-talkies" is one of many ICT experiences we have introduced at foundation level, along with webcams, metal detectors and digital photography. They are much cheaper than mobile phones and give some additional experience in using different sorts of buttons.

We might ask our four-year-olds to take a walkie-talkie with them on a visit, say, to local woods and to describe to staff or other children what they see. Sometimes we hide objects in the grounds, or in areas we visit, and direct the children to find them, with instructions such as: "There is treasure ahead, walk two paces, turn left." Alternatively, they can take a map with them and be guided by walkie-talkie if they get lost or are in doubt.

These lessons are particularly useful for children with poor listening or directional skills. The two-way radios give them the experience of working with real rather than pretend phones, which improves their communication skills. Mastering the technique of holding down the buttons and conveying when the conversation is finished also improves their concentration and self-esteem.

Lynn Kennington, headteacher, Gamesley Early Excellence Centre, Glossop, Derbyshire

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