Knowledge is power, not just for children with challenges but for the adults working with them.
By getting to know the child you will ultimately understand them as a person though you will need to gain their perspective in a direct and effective way. For example, if a child struggles with keeping their desk organized you may use a known strength to help them organize their things. Perhaps they are very skilled at imagining things. If you know this about the child you can then use that as a tool to help them to envision an organized desk or to imagine where the math worksheet may be in the desk.
Knowing a child and understanding a child are two closely related but different concepts. You may know the child’s favorite color and candy bar but do you understand why they choose to play alone at recess? Do you understand what they’re doing when they wind the pencil sharpener exactly 10 times before examining the pencil? Understanding a child means knowing their motivations, goals, habits, needs, and what makes them who they are.
Read the following information to complete the worksheet below:
Shelby is 7 years old and doesn’t enjoy completing her work in class. She has a meticulously decorated spiral notebook with dozens of pages filled with intricate doodles and drawings. Instead of completing any sort of schoolwork she is often found drawing in the notebook. A teacher who doesn’t understand Shelby may see a girl who is off task and doesn’t want to do her work. Other teachers may see a child who is creative and bored with her school work. If you understand her as her teacher, you would know that Shelby struggles with executive function disorder and is a visual thinker. She struggles to complete tasks if she cannot visualize the outcome. Instead of doing her work she prefers to draw because she is very skilled at putting the images in her head onto paper.
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