Category Archives: Teachers

Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms

Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. A Guide for Teachers is a must-read for educators handling students with special needs.

Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms
A teacher’s job is not easy. You may have big classes of 40 and more pupils – all of them individuals! Having children with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds in your class often means more work but it need not be so. You can manage differences among the children if:

  • You can recognise children’s strengths and weaknesses and plan your lessons accordingly;
  • You know how children’s learning can be affected by disabilities and deprivation and you use teaching strategies for overcoming these difficulties;
  • You have confidence in your own abilities as a teacher to plan lessons for individuals and adapt the curriculum to suit the needs of all children;
  • You get help and support from colleagues, parents and other professionals, such as community and health workers.
  • You believe that all children have the right to education and that all can learn.

This Guide is designed to help you do all these.

The Guide has four main aims:

  1. To provide teachers with key facts about various impairments and deprivations and how to overcome the most common learning difficulties that result from them.
  2. To inform teachers what they can reasonably do to adapt the classroom and school environment to overcome the barriers to learning faced by children with impairments.
  3. To describe strategies teachers can use to respond to the diversity of children in their classrooms and show some ideas how the curriculum can be adapted to individual needs.
  4. To encourage teachers to work with families and with other personnel in health and social services and in the community.

Source: UNESCO

Occupational Therapy and Handwriting

School-aged children who are struggling with written communication or those described to have poor handwriting are being referred to occupational therapists. The American Occupational Therapy Association (2002) explains to consumers how occupational therapists can help children develop and/or improve their handwriting ability.

Occupational therapists can evaluate the underlying components that support a student’s handwriting, such as muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and motor control, and parents can encourage activities at home to support good handwriting skills.

What can an occupational therapist do?

  • Demonstrate proper posture to supports the proper use of the arms, hands, head, and eyes.
  • Measure the level of physical strength and endurance.
  • Analyze fine motor control, such as the ability to hold a writing utensil.
  • Determine visual and perceptual ability that influences a child’s ability to form letter and shapes using a writing utensil.
  • Help develop and evaluate handwriting curriculums and collaborate with teachers on effective strategies.
  • Suggest home activities that promote the development of skills needed in good handwriting.

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For more information and tips, we have gathered the following links:

Epilepsy and Learning

As we have been referred a number of children with epilepsy having learning difficulties, we want to share this Teacher’s Information Booklet titled “The ABC‘s of Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders in the Elementary Classroom” by Epilepsy Ontario. This was produced by a group of parents who want educators to know as much as possible about epilepsy. Quoted below are some important points from the booklet.

Early recognition and treatment is important because children with epilepsy can face problems in school. These include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Safety risks
  • Behaviour problems
  • Social problems
  • Chronic absenteeism

The teacher plays a central role in the acceptance and self-development of the child who has seizures in the classroom. Sufficient knowledge and understanding of what epilepsy is will allow the teacher to educate the other students and influence the way in which children respond to this disorder.

Epilepsy and Learning

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder. The occurrence and frequency of seizures are unpredictable. The child, the family, and the teacher must learn to live with this uncertainty, and not let fear of a seizure interrupt a normal life.

Children with epilepsy exhibit the same wide range of intelligence and ability as other children. Children don’t require special education simply because they have epilepsy. Some children with epilepsy may require it just as some children without epilepsy will require it. Many children do need extra support because of the side effects of their medications and other brain anomalies. Some neurological disorders that cause epilepsy may also cause learning difficulties.

In the early years severe, frequent seizures can affect the learning process, causing cognitive delays. In the school years, absenteeism can impact the learning process by causing the child to miss socialization opportunities and class instruction.

Children also feel tired after nocturnal or frequent seizures.

Psychosocial effects of seizures, including feelings of lack of control, poor self image, poor attitude toward school and social problems can affect school performance.

Negative reactions from peer groups and teachers to epilepsy can adversely affect the child with a seizure disorder

There is no cure for epilepsy. Seizures can be controlled in an estimated 80% of all cases by the use of anti-convulsant medication, and in 70-80% of children the epilepsy resolves after a few years.

Possible Side Effects of Medications:

  • Learning Capacity: concentration, short term memory loss
  • Alertness: hyperactivity, drowsiness, fatigue
  • Motor Capacity: hand, eye, balance, speech co-ordination
  • General well-being: unsteadiness, vomiting, dizziness
  • Mood changes: depression, aggressiveness, anti-social behaviours
  • Toxicity: liver damage, anemia

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