There is need to develop innovative ways of learning for differently-abled children, says Mahjabeen Yusufi
Learning is the process of gaining knowledge or skill. But how do we accomplish this with children who are unable to learn in traditional ways. Well, the answer to that is innovation! Innovative methods; titrated to the needs of each child will help optimise the learning process. Now let us look at some of the challenges encountered.
Do you remember sitting for a three-hour long movie and waiting for the interval to stretch your legs? Well, whittle that down to a 40-minute session; and you have a child who is edgy, restless and fidgety. What that child needs; is an interval. Tasks like ‘erase the board’, ‘take a peek out the window’, ‘have a sip of water and join us’ can be given to the child. These two-minute intermittent breaks will calm the surge of restiveness and help with sitting tolerance.
For many children rote learning has been an integral and safe tool, hence any digression into abstract territory may ruffle them. Have you tried making sense of a Jackson Pollock? I can’t! Making sense of abstract nuances can be a difficult task for those children who think only in black and white.
Simple tasks like ‘make a sentence’ will leave them parroting back the excerpt from the lesson. Tell them ‘Don’t think about the table as you read it in the text, look at your table; is it big, blue, messy, wooden? Now make a sentence.’
Encourage role play where they learn to challenge and improvise. Turn that abstract thinking into something concrete. ‘Circle your friend like the Earth does the sun’, ‘Put your hand on the speaker and feel the vibration of sound’. Engage all their senses and create a 5D learning experience. Another area is attention. I sometimes think of that picture in picture television. Where do I focus my attention? That can be a daily reality for many children. What we need to do is tone down the learning space. No cluttered desks, no engaging in intrusive and tangent talk. Train the child to build tolerance by waiting for a stipulated time at the end of each class for expression and dialogue.
You may also encounter impulsive and sometimes destructive behaviour. Can you imagine having to dodge a projectile in class while teaching because the child was not happy with a B. A behaviour modification chart will go a long way to repair unfitting behaviour. Being firm with bad behaviour is just as important as rewarding good behaviour. A rewards chart with takeaways like ‘you can wear coloured clothes once you collect your stars’, ‘library privileges card’ will help motivate appropriate behaviour.
Adopt a creative approach. Reverse roles in class, as a teacher you hand in your work and ask them to correct it. Let them hold the reins for a while scanning through your flawed work. This is not only an excellent tool for revision but it humanises the authority figure and shows the children that adults too make mistakes.
At the end of the day you need to respect every child. Steer clear of discrediting syntax. They might not understand semantics but they are fluent in body language. A simple pat on the back will show them that you care.
Mahjabeen Yusufi Teacher, The Aditya Birla Integrated School
Link to Article: https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/avenues/—adopt-creative-teaching-approach—.html