Why we use symbols

Motivation and Behaviour

MotivationWe use text for assisting in the delivery of major sections of the curriculum. Those students who have difficulty with text will frequently find frustration in handling many aspects of school life, from surviving in the general school environment, through literacy work, to understanding written instructions and worksheets for the curriculum.

If we can separate out literacy problems from other tasks then we can reduce the measure of frustration very significantly. There are many cases, other than the descriptions here, where teachers have seen much greater motivation through the use of symbols.

Clearly not all cases of poor behaviour will be helped by increasing motivation and involvement through symbol support, but for many students it empowers them to become learners. Symbols have also been shown to have a role in managing behaviour by creating more effective ways of communicating with students. Many are not able to understand or remember verbal instructions and information. Holding up a symbol card to reinforce a spoken instruction or request, can help a student fully understand what behaviour is required.

Symbols can give these children a voice to express themselves when words fail them.


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