How can educators make their students enjoy the learning process despite their differences?
The educational sector has experienced numerous developments as the years go by; one of which is the inception of inclusive and special education.
Just like our workplace is made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds who come together for the growth of an organisation, inclusive and special education is a must if you want to make all kids feel included in the learning experience.
Follow me as I venture into the world of inclusive and special education.
What is Inclusive Education?
Inclusive education is a system of education that ensures that all children, irrespective of background, nationality, income, and health status, are given the right environment and learning techniques to excel in their academics.
Inclusive education encompasses normal kids, children with learning disabilities, children with physical disabilities and behavioural disabilities.
Examples of such disabilities are Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Language Processing Disorder and Dyscalculia.
What is Special Education?
Special education is a system of education that seeks to reduce the learning challenges hindering children with learning disabilities from excelling in their academic pursuits.
Practising special education is divided into three interventions.
1. Compensatory Interventions
Just like the use of medicated glasses improves the eyesight of affected individuals, compensatory interventions involve the use of special devices or software to improve the learning ability of a child with special needs.
This can include removing distractions from the vicinity of the child, using specific learning software, and employing shorter sentences in place of longer ones.
2. Remedial Interventions
Remedial interventions seek to furnish children with the right skills to help them scale through on their terms. These skills are incorporated into the normal teaching process to promote excellence among students.
Remedial interventions include breaking large hunks of tasks into smaller bits, changing your teaching approach based on concepts and subjects, and encouraging other members of the class to tutor their colleagues who are having difficulties.
3. Preventive Interventions
Preventive maintenance is carried out on a vehicle to stave off wear and tear. In the same vein, preventive interventions aim to put a latch on or prevent a situation from happening.
This involves stopping a future episode from an autistic child and setting up proactive actions to improve their participation in learning.
Strategies for Supporting Students with Diverse Learning Needs
1. Recognise the Unique Requirements of Each Student
The world is made up of different habitats like the rainforest and mangroves. Several land, air, and sea creatures also exist with diverse features that equip them for survival.
The children in your class are unique and knowing their specific needs will aid in their educational journey. For example, what excites Samuel and grabs his attention might not interest Alexandra.
2. Curricula Should be Modified to Serve All Students
Curriculum modification doesn’t involve changing the topic, but rather changing the methods used in teaching these topics. For example, tasks can be broken down into smaller bits to encourage participation and pique their interest.
Furthermore, shiny materials can be included in class activities. The use of special kits can be introduced and the peering of active kids with those who prefer to be by themselves.
3. Encourage Children to Participate in All Tasks
Children should be encouraged to participate in all tasks, especially group activities. This will increase their ability to communicate and build great relationships with their peers.
Also, doing this helps them to relate well with those children who have special needs.
4. Send Out Schedules Ahead of Time
Give your children the opportunity to arrange their mindset before a subject by sending out the schedule ahead of time. A child who doesn’t love Physical Education (PE) can make prior plans to be in the same group with a friend who enjoys PE to boost his/her morale.
This can also help them to get their materials and projects ready before the time for the class.
5. Establish a Serene, Focused Learning Atmosphere
Who doesn’t love a peaceful and serene environment? I sure do, especially in an environment where learning is scheduled to take place. Encourage your students to build a culture of keeping their class calm at all times.
This can be in the form of raising hands before they speak or reporting personal grievances or suggestions to the teacher.
6. Set Clear Behavioural Standards
What is obtainable in your classroom? Are children allowed to move from one point to another at will? Are they allowed to scream at the top of their voices while expressing displeasure or are they allowed to talk at random during lessons?
Setting behavioural standards lets students know the appropriate manner they should behave while learning.
7. Give Kids the Freedom to Select How to Demonstrate What They Have Learnt
Some kids are better at writing, others are exceptional in presentations while some just want to engage in group discussions all day. Some children might also love to take videos of themselves or design amazing graphics to share their points.
Inclusive education entails allowing your students to illustrate what they have learned in a manner that suits them. This should not be an everyday occurrence.
8. Taking Note of Individual Growth is Essential
As kids, we were excited when our parents applauded us for cooking a meal, getting good grades, or acquiring a particular skill. In inclusive and special education, the growth of every student is essential.
Children should not be compared with their peers through sarcastic or snide comments as this can dampen their morale.
9. Make Use of Multimedia Resources
Incorporating the use of digital devices with colourful illustrations is beneficial in inclusive and special education. This helps students with special needs assimilate the topic being discussed at almost the same rates as their counterparts.
Animations and videos can also be added to increase engagement and participation.
10. Adopt a “Scaffolding” Method of Instruction
Scaffolding in inclusive and special education involves assisting children during the initial stages of learning. This can be in the form of motivation, warnings, and all-round support.
Also, scaffolding entails that you schedule different activities to suit the learning needs of all children for a particular topic to be taught.
Inclusive and special education are necessary in our educational system to cater for the needs of different students with learning disabilities and behavioural disorders.
Integrating the strategies listed above will foster a great teaching and learning experience for everyone involved.
Researched by Adejoke Toye