Every child needs Special Ed

“We want our children to get the best education” – Most parents. But “Most Parents” have the idea of education skewed to such an extent that they compare it with grades. I recently met one of my clients who started discussing her daughter’s grades and she compared it with her classmate. But that led me to thinking – Do our¬†exams¬†test¬†everything? No. They assess only memory. What if a child’s strength is dancing, or art, or athletics? How do our schools determine these aspects of a child’s life? Each child is different, so each child should get a personalized educational plan.

Assessment should be less restrictive as well. We should not limit tests to paper-pencil test. Alternate methods of assessment can also be used. Observations, on-field activity, analytical thinking matter too. Tests should also not be standardized as the learning pace of each child is different. So how can we make every child get special education?

Teachers can use newer techniques in teaching and try to practice blending learning. Questions can be more analytical which helps the child to think creatively and practically. Most important of all, teachers should create Personalized Educational Plan (PEP) for each child.

Prepare a PEP

To start off, you first need to have a team of people who know the student, to create a PEP.

PEP Team should have

  • The students’ class teacher
  • The school resource teacher / Special Educator / Counselor / Medical specialist
  • Parents/ Guardians
  • School administration (vice-principal, headmistress)

What should the PEP Team focus on?

  • Social and academic strengths of the student
  • Social and academic needs of the student
  • Educational goals and objectives for the coming year
  • Best way or combination of different assessments requires for the student

With the help of these steps, a teacher can enhance the strengths and address the needs by creating a plan with specific goals and objectives. The progress can be monitored while teaching takes place or after various assessments. Although planning of a PEP should take place before the course starts, regular planning and follow ups with parents and professionals is important to get the over all feedback of the child, which again helps with creating or improving the PEP.

(If you have created a PEP for your students, comment how it has helped you.)


Educational travel in India for children and teenagers

Childhood has always been a blithe memory, for most of my vacations were spent travelling with my parents around the country. They took my brother and me to historical monuments, traditional temples, geographical wonders, planned cities and cultural villages. India’s diversity has been an attraction for tourists from all over the world, but the beautiful stories every place had inspired me as an Indian.

India has a ton of educational places where students can learn about its heterogeneity. Very few schools take their students for these study trips, but that is what should be addressed. Planning and organizing edu-visits are not as easy as they may seem, but it is cheaper for schools to collect funds and plan an edu-visit rather than parents, who may not have the proper resources to do so. Although, there are some parents who take time out from their busy schedules and take their kids for such visits.

Learning happens best when it is experienced.

What is a field trip/ an educational visit ?

A planned and organized tour of places to visit, food, cultural and traditional exchange between locals of the particular place and the students, as well as activities related to that specific area of study or place.

What is the difference between a field trip and educational visit?

Field trips are short in duration, usually close to the city or not more than 3-4 hours of travel. Educational visits tend to be of a longer duration.

What are the different types of field trips?

Visiting a farm, a zoo, a factory, hiking, camping, heritage walk, photo walk, museum visits can be named under field trips.

What are the different types of educational visits?

Since educational visits are longer in duration, staying at that site, learning about the place and interacting with locals is what makes it experiential. For example, staying in Auroville (planned city) to learn about the foundation and infrastructure of the city or visiting the Gir National Park to learn about the wildlife in Gujarat.

Here is a list of places where students can explore, learn and muse over what they see.

visitingMy Favorites

Hampi – The ruins of Vijayanagara Kingdom with the backdrop of boulders gave me the unique picture of ancient history.

Borra Caves – An exploration of stalagmites and stalactites with deep and high ceilings was amazing to the urban eye.

Konark Temple – An amalgamation of architecture, history, spirituality and art, one word, mesmerizing.

Dubare Elephant Farm – A day with the elephants will tempt you to stay there or visit them again.

Udaipur – A planned, historical and beautiful mixture of urban and rural India.

National Science Centre – Got mind-blown by the science and technology.

If you wish to suggest a few more places, share your personal experiences or just say “hi”, please comment in the comment section below.

The Bully inside us

I watched a video on TED by Monica Lenwinsky  about her personal experience with bullying. What I realized was that, like her, everyday, many children as well as adults go through this traumatizing experience. This act is two way Рone is the victim and one is the bully. There are many posts to educate the victim and how to avoid being bullied, but we have failed to educate children that we can become bullies unintentionally. words Indian schools need to start spreading awareness and informing children from 1st grade onwards. There are numerous activities to help children understand the types of bullying, how to stop it, and how NOT to become a bully. Here are a few tips which teachers and parents can use for their children.

Bullying can be of any form Рphysical, social, verbal and cyber.  

Kids may not understand the forms of bullying. They may emote imperceptibly. The act may be to prove themselves to be strong, or to get back at someone, but they neglect the consequences. They may post or say something about someone in form of a joke, but it can hurt the person who is mocked.

Are you a Bully?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Mark 1 for “Yes” and 0 for “No”

1. Have you told anyone not to be a certain person’s friend?

2. Have you called anyone names?

3. Have you kicked, tripped, punched, broken someone’s things on purpose?

4. Have you laughed at someone’s dressing style on their face or otherwise?

5. Have you teased someone about their body type or looks?

6. Have you intentionally not included someone in a group?

7. Have you threatened someone in any specific way?

8. Have you ever shared, posted, liked, posted nasty comments about someone’s picture, video in an embarrassing moment or moment of failure?

9. Have you ever picked on anyone for your own amusement or to impress your friends?

10. Have you made up stories, shared false information about someone because you dislike that person?

(If your score is 2 or more, you are a bully.)

Quick classroom activity

Take a large piece of plain stiff paper. Ask the children to say hurtful and mean words. As they do, crumple a bit of the paper. The children enjoy watching this. Then tell them that the mean words that they said had hurt the paper and now it’s crumpled into a ball. Ask them to say kind words to ease the paper. Once the paper is eased you can point out that the veins¬†on the paper and the mean words created scars which can not be repaired. ¬†A more graphic visualization for greater impact can be by making silhouette of a person, then make the children say hurtful words, and when they do, cut out a piece of their limb. After the words are said then stick them back by saying kinder words and using tape. The scars remain and the message is understood. Discuss how they felt when they said those mean words and how they felt after realizing that the mean words created scars. Make them write for lasting changes.

A word to live by – THINK think The best way to stop us and our children from being bullied and being bullies is to spread the word, share the knowledge and talk about it with friends and family.