Developing an education system for children with learning disabilities
Everyone has the right to access quality and meaningful education. This includes students and children worldwide with learning disabilities. Often, children with learning disabilities are neglected, and as a result, fall behind.
This not only deprives the child of future opportunities but causes additional hardships on their families. Our society should make changes in our education system to make it more inclusive and accessible. A full discussion on this topic is beyond the scope of one article, but I will be noting some guidelines which can eliminate the barriers faced by students with learning disabilities.
Primarily, we should invest in training to ensure teachers have the right approach towards special needs. Educators could implement certain strategies -- breaking learning into smaller steps, asking probing questions, providing feedback, clearly stating expectations, etc.
In addition, teachers should encourage active participation of these students with disabilities within classrooms. There should be opportunities for them to communicate and engage with teachers and their peers. If a class size is too large, there could be another assistant teacher who can work with those students in smaller groups. In addition, educators also have the duty to encourage families to be involved in the learning process, and keep them informed about their child’s progress and potential.
Often, children do not receive proper accomodation for their disabilities. This is where an IPP (individual program plan) can be useful which provides individualized help to support the learning of students with special needs. This curriculum gives emphasis on motor, cognition, language, and literacy skills. The plan is developed after doing assessments to identify where a student stands -- what the weaknesses and development delays are.
In addition, monthly meetings are conducted to see how they have progressed and develop new goals. The most beneficial aspect of the program is that it allows adjustments to ensure these children are learning the same material and skills as others -- but in a more suitable method, where educators understand how they can assess a student’s learning style and help them succeed.
To emphasize, inclusive education can only be achieved through the combined effort of professionals, students, families, and communities. Child therapists, staff, education policy-makers, as well as parents should work together to reach the common goal. The community, in general, must also develop a certain mindset and put extra effort to help every child.
It is unfortunate that students with disabilities continue to face negative attitudes and stereotypes. Lack of knowledge and resources make it difficult for these children to receive equal education. The change will only come about with the realization and acceptance that children have unique needs and different learning styles.
Keeping this in mind, we must assist children to reach their potential, so they can participate and contribute to their communities. Each child has something to offer, and therefore should be given the chance to prove themselves. Denying them this ability to contribute is society’s loss.
Ramisa Ashna Mahmud is a Registered Early Childhood Educator in Toronto, Canada.