Monthly Archives: August 2017
‘The Future of Education’-Blogathon (Festival of Education)
There is a lot of talk about the inclusive education these days. Let us first try to understand the concept of inclusive education.
Inclusive education is a model where students with and without special needs are taught in the same classroom.
Government of India is putting a lot of efforts to execute this scheme successfully all over the country. And we wholeheartedly appreciate the effort of bringing all students under the same roof and providing single platform to all children to participate, learn and get equal treatment, irrespective of their abilities. This brings a ray of hope to many millions of parents with special need children who desperately want to have the best education and facilities for their wards.
However, we should realize that just the inclusion policies can never bring the best out of these special need children. To achieve the real purpose of inclusive education, the teaching practices used in the inclusive education system must be good and effective.
Children with special needs are often found to have low tolerance level, high frustration level. They have low attention span and can be distracted easily. They have difficulties in working with others. So apart from showing love and patience, teachers need to include some innovative ideas in their lesson plans to bring fun in their learning process. And outdoor learning can be one of the ways. It has been observed that most of the children with special need are more comfortable in visual-based learning. So teachers are usually using flash cards, printable, videos etc for teaching them. But instead of using these methods every time, sometime the best way is to get children outside and allow learning in the nature.
Many lessons for smaller kids such as basic identification of things around us or understanding weather or knowing domestic animals or vehicles or types of soils etc can be learned more effectively if children gets opportunities to learn through outdoor activities. A visit to farm, museum, playground or nearby park etc once in a month should be included in their curriculum plan. Children who are struggling in reading easily get bored and frustrated in conventional classroom settings. Reading outdoors will be fun, enjoyable and stress relieving for these pupils. A reading outdoor program in a quiet and open space can be conducted for them on a regular basis. If a school has a larger open space area, the authority can use some part of it for gardening purpose with special need children. Digging soil, planting seed, researching with plants, knowing about vegetables and fruits help these children to involve with many areas – from technology to science. Also waiting for a long time to see plants grow will actually help them to develop life skills like patience and tolerance. Outdoor activities like hide-n-seek and treasure hunt encourage them to learn many skills like counting, turn taking and instruction following.
Most of the children with special needs are struggling a lot in structured classroom. This outdoor activities encourages social interaction with peers and teachers that boost up their confidence and self-esteem. It helps them to relieves stress and anxiety and motivates in their learning.
Our goal should not be just be limited to modification of their syllabus but to incorporate modification in our teaching style so that they can reach to their full potential.
Autism is a complex developmental disorder that manifests in children by the age of three. The incidence of Autism is on the rise. But the exact cause of it is not known. Experts believe that it occurs due to neurological impairment that has an effect on normal brain function and cause significant social, communication, and behavioural challenges. Autistic children process information in their brain differently than other people. Hence teaching to these children needs different strategies.
Autistic children are usually visual learners. They understand pictures better than verbal instructions. So, it is advisable to educators to avoid giving long strings of verbal instructions while teaching a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) child. The use of art as a teaching tool can be a great and effective way in developing the learning process of an ASD child.
Many children with autism are good at drawing. These talent areas should be encouraged by parents, educators and therapist. Art gives them a degree of control over their learning. An ASD child when shown a picture and taught prepositions (in, on, under, in front of etc.), may become bored. However, if the same child is asked to draw “A rat sits on a mat” or “The ball is under a table”, he finds it more interesting and achieves much more control over his learning experience.
Although many autistic children are good in numbers, they usually find difficulties in solving story sums or word problems. They face issues in understanding the language of the problem. So for better results, break down the whole sums into parts and help the child “translate” the language into pictures. Drawing a picture of the problem facilitate them to understand “What the problem is actually asking?” This can be a one of the effective ways of teaching story sums to an ASD child.
Many autistic children have problems with their fine motor skills. Art activities like colouring with crayon over pictures can bring an improvement. Educator can ask a child to “colour big ball or colour small balloon” while teaching the basic functional concepts. In this way, not only he can help a child to learn concepts but also hone his motor skills.
Children with ASD struggle with focus and attention, and that affects their learning process. So, incorporating close-ended activities like art and drawing assignment which requires more focus and concentration in teaching methods would be a better idea for their effective learning.
An autistic child, who is non-verbal and cannot communicate gets angry and frustrated when unable to open up his feelings and choice. Art can be used as a medium to express his emotions, interest or choice. Communicating a simple choice of “No” and “Yes” can be encouraged by drawing “X” or “\/” .More the child is able to express his thoughts, better the teacher understands him. It is of enormous benefit when it comes to teaching an ASD child.
Teaching through creative methods has no second to providing an highly interesting and unparalleled level of communication and engagement with autistic children. Educators, therapist and parents should also encourage the talents of ASD children which often goes unnoticed and not utilized properly. ASD children are not unskilled but there is a need to guide and help a child in recognizing and highlighting his talent so that it can be converted into skills. Art as a teaching tool undoubtedly helps struggling learners and allow them to experience happy learning.
Note: The above post written by me earlier in “The progressive teacher ” magazine @ Jan,2017
Does your child have trouble with anything to do with basic arithmetic skill? Does he have less understanding of numbers? Does he feel difficulties in memorizing arithmetic facts? Has he always got stuck in understanding quantity? If your child is facing these problems persistently, chances are there he may have dyscalculia. But hold on, don’t get scared because his disabilities can be remediated, unlike some few years ago when even the diagnosis of a child with dyscalculia could have been altogether a very tough task, let alone handling it the way it should be. Thanks to the huge success in the research and development taking place in this field. Today dyscalculia is probably just a matter of getting some professional help for diagnosis and intervention.
What is dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a type of learning disorder. As per American Psychiatric Association, dyscalculia is a specific learning disability that affects the normal acquisition of arithmetic skills in spite of having normal intelligence. Children with dyscalculia face difficulties in understanding number concepts, manipulating numbers and recalling basic math facts. They usually show dislike of or anxiety towards maths. It has been observed that children with dyscalculia can also have dyslexia, another learning disorder, where a child has difficulty reading and writing. Studies looking at the percentage of dyscalculics who are also dyslexic differ wildly in their estimates from 17% to 64% (Badian, 1999; Gross-Tsur et al., 1996; Lewis et al., 1994) but the relationship between them is still unclear. There might be many reasons – like neurological defect, poor working memory, genetics, poor teaching and unsuitable learning environment or even math-phobia – that cause a child to have difficulties in doing mathematics. But study says dyscalculia might be caused by a difference in brain function or in brain structure, more specifically the right parietal lobes. Some of the common math-related problems a child with dyscalculia may face include:
1. They feel difficulties in memorizing basic number facts. Number facts are basic procedures, rules or formulas which a child has difficulties to recall.
2. In spite of having good concepts of mathematics, they often end up committing errors because they misread signs, forget to carry digits, put digits in wrong place or make mistakes in carrying numbers, or don’t write digits clearly enough. Sometimes they perform operations in wrong direction.
3. They often make mistakes while copying sums from either classroom board or from textbooks.
4. They face difficulties in doing multi-step and complex maths problems. They face difficulty in switching between different steps in a complex maths problem. They often forget what they are doing in mid of solving a maths problem.
5. Solving word problems is a tough task for them. They get confused with the language of the problem and are unable to understand the direction or explanation.
How can you help a dyscalculic child?
Dyscalculia can come about to any children including those who are profoundly gifted, of mediocre intelligence, or those diagnosed with a mental retardation. Most students diagnosed with dyscalculia feel frustrated and de-motivated to doing maths. So it is the responsibility of parents and educators to help these children to overcome their weakness – after all, some research over 30 years already proved that brain can be ‘customized’ by experience, understanding and learning. Teachers and parents can incorporate certain strategies to help these children to succeed in mathematics.
1. An important thing for parents, teachers, and special educator to do is communicate with each other and decide on a common curriculum. They should follow a similar instructional approach.
2. Teach them basic concepts using concrete objects, like allowing them to explore numbers concepts by counting the number of dishes on the dinner table or by subtracting pencil from pencil box. Using real-life situation helps them to learn in more effective way. Use more and more visual and auditory examples for their better understanding.
3. Encourage dyscalculic children to visualize math problems, especially word problems, by drawing.
4. Complex and big problems should not be given at a very initial stage. Educators should break down big math problem into smaller parts and gradually build on them with time.
5. Encourage them to review the work after completing the task and modify it if necessary.
6. Allow dyscalculic children to use calculator. Calculators helps them to overcome the difficulties in performing basic computation.
7. Learning through play like dice game, business game or card game benefits a lot to dyscalculic children.
8. Use different learning strategies for arithmetic calculations like if a child has problem in memorizing multiplication table, he can be taught other ways to solve a multiplication problem. For example, 6 x 4 can be solved by adding 6 + 6 + 6 + 6.
9. Use specialized materials like graph paper which makes it easier for a child to keep track of numbers when doing arithmetic calculation.
If a child has dyscalculia that does not mean he will fail in maths or cannot move up in academic ladder. Dyscalculia is a recognized learning disability, so schools will make accommodations for dyscalculia students. Children with dyscalculia can be helped with remedial programs as mentioned above, but of course the sooner the remedy program starts, the better chance they have of overcoming their dyscalculia.
Note: The above article posted by me earlier in ” Mycity4kids” & ” The progressive teacher” @ July, 2016
Having a good study habit is vital for a child to achieve academic success. Parents should therefore encourage their child to develop good study habits from an early age and educate them about the role of good study habits in academic success. Research says that human habits are unlikely to change after age nine. There is no magic wand that will help your child take naturally to studying. Parents should try some of the following things to inculcate good study habits in their children.
1. Encourage your child to study every day. Even if he has no homework or exams the next day, see to it that he spends at least some time reading or learning. It is OK if he doesn’t sit at the table for long, but it should be regular and preferably at the same time. Remain firm regardless of any protests or excuses.
2. A quiet place with good lighting and away from all type of noise and distraction is an ideal place for studying. Designating a specific place as the ‘study area’ gives your child a sense of the importance of studying. Make him practice sitting in the study area for studying.
3. If the child has siblings, get them all to study at the same time so they don’t disturb one other.
4. When your child is becoming overwhelmed, allow the child to take break from study. It will help the child relax and improve its focus and concentration. Breaks prevent brain fatigue as well as physical discomforts like eye strain.
5. Teach your child at a young age the importance of time management and drawback of procrastination. Encourage him to maintain a study calendar. Kids can note in their homework times, assignment submission dates and test dates on it.
6. Parents’ involvement doesn’t end simply with handing over the book to the child and walking away or taking control by giving commands, threats or through surveillance. Take active part in his learning, give him some autonomy, and reward him for his effort. If your child is struggling with a question or subject, encourage him to ask you questions.
When kids feel like good study habit has value and they are not coerced into inculcating it, it will definitely lead the kids to greater achievement.
Note: The above article posted by me on “mycity4kids” on oct 04-2016