Mother Goose Time suggests topics for their blog ambassadors (like myself) to discuss. This month we’ve been sharing thoughts on “Individualizing Instruction” regarding our students interests, developmental levels, learning styles and “adapting for inclusion.” During a discussion on inclusion I was surprised how many providers felt they didn’t need to adapt, as they “have no special needs students.” Recent data shows that special needs students account for 13% of the children in a classroom and this statistic is thought to be low. When asked who they considered special needs many defined significant labels or described physical impairments. This is why many with delays or mental illness do not get the early intervention they need to be successful in their later years.
Special needs can be physical, intellectual, emotional, medical… EVERYONE has some kind of special need. The level to which that need impacts their daily life is how we measure if they need additional special services to succeed or even survive. But even if their need is not life threatening they deserve all the resources available to assist them in their area of struggle. EVERYONE struggles in some areas and we all deserve the assistance to survive beyond that struggle. But first we must note our struggles and admit them and be ok with labeling ourselves. A label does not have have to be a bad thing if it gets us services to be successful at reaching our goals. Everyones goals are different, but everyones goals start of the same – simple survival.
After surviving fetal stages we move through infancy and development is noted each week…each month of our first years. When certain developmental milestones are skipped or delayed or regressed we need to note that. Yes everybody conquers milestones at different rates, but observing red flags throughout development help us help each child reach their full potential. At 2months an infant should be able to make eye contact, by 6months that baby should be reaching for objects, at 9months he or she should be able to sit upright, by their first year they should be able to bear weight on their legs. That one year old should be chewing solid foods, by 18months he or she should be at least starting to walk and talk. Toddlers should start mastering their walking (even up and down steps) and mastering their talking (using short phrases).
Preschoolers should be communicating with peers and trying to be independent with self help skills, such as using the toilet. If they are not meeting “school readiness” guidelines during those preschool years, if there is poor interactions with others or within their own body, or if parent/provider instinct says there are concerns someone should seek developmental resources. Some programs (like ADVENTURE ACADEMY) have additional resources and service contacts available to even meet at the center or in the families home. During a resource and referral discussion I was asked if there are special needs students at Adventure Academy and the answer is yes. We have students with specific labels, developmental delays and even medically fragile children who attended and who all learn and play together.
One benefit to our inclusive / multi-age program is that no-one is compared to another. Everyone has areas they struggle with and areas they succeed. We focus on success and use our gifts, talents and interests to help teach each other. Toddlers bring books for elementary students to read to them, students who have yet to master math skills watch other students solve equations, and when young children become interested in a topic such as dinosaurs it resparks a curiosity in older students to study that topic on a deeper level. Older students become more confident in skills by teaching those younger, while younger students are exposed to higher levels of learning without intimidation. Those who have questioned this multi-age approached or worried about the impact of inclusion have later told me of the blessings it’s brought their child and their family being involved.
If you’d like your child to be involved we have a couple part time openings available. Contact Christi@MiFamilies.com for more information on Adventure Academy or any of our Mi Families “my families” programs. Also feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more about working with special needs children. Parents and providers often feel intimidated by the term special needs until they realize everyone has special needs … and special gifts and talents and interests and ideas … and we all learn differently from each other, yet can learn from each other. There are many different tools to teach different learning styles and different developmental levels. Often the best way to reach a group is through themes of interest that you can adapt for each individual student. One of the theme curriculums we use is Mother Goose Time. This month we are “Discovering the Desert.”
Many of the pictures posted are from this weeks desert explorations. Each month we explore a different unit and sometimes we follow teacher guides as intended and other times children decide the order of our learning adventures. We use different curriculums and resources from libraries and social media: such as our Pinterest boards, YouTube channel etc… Feel free to check out our ideas online. Feel free to network with us, other parents and providers on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Feel free to click “subscribe” above to follow our future adventures and learn more about the programs we facilitate. Fore more information on such programs visit www.MiFamilies.com. “Mi Families is reaching out with resources – for families and those who work with families across Michigan.”