Every Child deserves a Champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.
Every child has the right to education and this right should not be taken away. It amazes me when kids with special needs master their skills, goals, and targets set for them through an Individualized Learning Program. The happiness on the faces of their parents when they are informed about their child’s success gives a true meaning for imparting knowledge and education in community.
Keeping this in mind, LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai opened its door to special education in a new way by setting up a small program for kids with special needs this year. It’s a typical school environment with a passionate and realistic approach.
Every morning, students come with happy faces to meet their teachers and to begin an exciting day of learning. With their peers they enjoy half an hour of floor time by choosing activities set up for them by their facilitators. They then prepare for morning circle where they sing songs welcoming all. They independently set up their visual calendars and are ready to sing the songs that signal the start of the day – days of the week, counting numbers, and singing “What day is today, yesterday, and tomorrow.” It’s rewarding to see the children help their friends and sometimes correct them. The children learn their routine through pictures and photos.
Next, they are ready to participate in guided reading with their teacher. After sitting and listening so well the children are ready for some exercise by playing games such as “Color, Color, Which Color do You Want?”
After some game time, the children are ready to work on their academics. The program follows 3 centers -
- Academic: This center is led by the facilitator. ILP goals are identified and are multi-disciplinary by nature. They consists of academic goals taken from US Common Core standards and goals set by ta child’s therapy team (ST, OT, and PT), keeping in mind the individual needs of each child.
- Independent: Many children with special needs find working independently a real challenge. To make them successful to live an independent life, this center encourages children to complete their task without help and guidance from the facilitator. We follow the TEACCH task system; students they pull out a bin of work planned for them, complete the activities, and place them into the finished bin.
- Sensory: Many of our children have sensory needs. Some benefit from a sensory activity before they begin work to help them focus and some need them after they complete work to help them relax. This center is designed with the individual needs of each student in mind. The sensory center is well-integrated with Academics, so children work on different kinds of hands on activities.
Each of the three centers runs for approximately fifteen minutes. Centers take place twice a day, one for language arts and the other for mathematics.
Afternoons are directed towards leisure activities. The children participate in Arts and Crafts, Music, Physical Education, and Cooking. Some of the children have specialist therapies which have been built into their school day at this time.
By 3.00pm our students are exhausted after a long day of learning and are ready to go home. We sing the goodbye song and eagerly await the next exciting day.