We often hear the term “inclusive classrooms” in today’s educational landscape, and most classrooms indeed aim to be inclusive. However, the way reality works is that students with disabilities prefer not to be singled out in any way. The common desire among them is to be treated just like everybody else, disregarding any perceived differences. It’s an absolute proof of longing for normalcy.
On the other side of inclusivity, schools should be open to recognising that the perception of it isn’t always aligned with the reality students experience. While society assumes that those with disabilities prefer to hide from the rest of the world, the truth is they yearn for nothing more than opportunities to mix with those who don’t have disabilities. They wanted to be treated and regarded as normal.
In this blog, we won’t discuss special classes, separate programs, or isolated spaces created with good intentions but inadvertently sent a “You’re different; you don’t belong here.” message, but a full inclusion where students are treated equally. Let’s dive right in!
Like all other disabilities, society perceives hyperlexia as an impairment instead of emphasising its positive aspects and unique skill sets. Jason’s journey changed this narrative. Despite struggling with hyperlexia and facing unsupportive teachers throughout his early education, Jason’s parents never gave up on advocating for his potential. This propelled Jason forward on his triumphant path to NASA.
“In terms of my path in relation to getting at NASA, I was going in zigzags like this. It wasn’t one straight path. That’s the whole overall purpose of life. And I’ve been very fortunate to know that God is looking out for me. And something else that I’d like to express, too, is in relation to God. He created each and every single one of us for a reason and a specific purpose. And he actually plants what he has for you inside your imagination.” – Jason Dietrich.
Children learn from one another as much as they do from their teachers. I have witnessed firsthand the powerful impact of inclusive classrooms. However, the unspoken truth is this setup could also be a double-edged sword. Segregating students with special needs can unintentionally stigmatise their condition and limit their social experiences, ultimately hindering their ability to adapt to the world. On the other hand, when children with disabilities are integrated into general education settings, they can interact with others more naturally. This interaction is a building block of understanding, empathy, and appreciation of diversity with non-disabled children, which are invaluable skills for a harmonious society.
This week, we surprisingly picked the ‘Toilet Paper’ card from the Creative Play and Movement Mission Deck. This game will encourage children to have endless creative ideas of what they can do with toilet paper. They can fold and shape it into origami masterpieces, transform it into a daring pirate by fashioning an eye patch, roll it up like a rocket and see how far it can fly, and create colourful party poppers filled with confetti— the sky is the limit!
The best part is this game knows no bounds, and every child, disabled or not, can shine to present their toilet paper masterpieces in class.
Grab a toilet paper roll and let your imagination soar, or pick a random activity with the Creative Play and Movement Mission Cards.
Providing equal opportunities helps children not only in socialisation but also in academics. SPED learners are customarily taught at a lower level from general education classrooms despite most of them being gifted, whereas, when they are placed in general education with appropriate support and accommodation, they flourish at grade level. Bonus when they feel a part of the classroom community rather than being singled out as “different”.
To achieve this equitable educational environment, these key strategies can be implemented:
- Individualised Education Plans (IEPs): Tailor educational plans to meet each child’s specific needs and accommodations within general education classrooms.
- Professional Development: Provide training for educators to effectively guide children with different needs in inclusive settings.
- Collaboration: Foster collaboration between special and general education teachers, enabling them to create a fully inclusive learning environment.
- Parent and Community Involvement: Engage parents and the community in creating a network of support and understanding.
- Peer Support: Encourage peer tutoring and mentoring programs where students can help and learn from each other.
To support these strategies, our top-rated game, Passport Explorer, aims to teach children teamwork irrespective of their unique learning needs. In this activity, students visit as many countries as they can. The board game is set up in a circle, straight line, or any other way you would like to design it in the classroom. The goal is for the students to roll the dice and move around the board. The first team to get four countries crossed off in a row on their passport yells out, “Bingo!”.
This game is simple and can be customised not to be physically taxing, perfect for children of all abilities to get engaged. We have included a blank game template so you can personalise your questions to suit different curriculum areas.
To start the game, print and laminate each PDF game square from the button above.
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