Early child development and education is a critical stage in a child’s life that should be handled with a lot of care. This therefore calls for a paradigm shift in designing learning curriculum, which not only addresses the need of all children but also adequately prepare the children for future endeavors. In America, the increase in racial diversity has posed a great challenge to both government and educators in the education sector. The diverse composition of children in early childhood classes has necessitated an all-inclusive curriculum, which address the need of both able and disable children in the society.
The recent modern time has created unlimited technological, social and economic potential to humankind. This follows a number of inventions that have been made and to adequately tap the benefits of work force, proper training of generations to come must be the center stage in the global context. Violence, economic problems, disease and disability among children pose a great challenge to the proper training of students towards realization of their full potential. We have therefore, adapted school curricula that are detrimental or have selective benefit in the society; not considering the interest of special students groups like the disabled students.
The weight of academic preparation for children is increasingly born on the shoulder of education system. Hence, it would be prudent to note that schools should adopt strategies that are all inclusive in realization of successful learning process for both normal and disabled children in the society. This is because all students regardless of their mental capability are entitled to knowledge, critical thinking as well as resilience qualities. In its endeavor to prepare children for future life, the governments should strive to ensure that education stakeholders, education policy makers develop and implement education curriculum that addresses the academic needs of all students in the society. In this case, the education system must be effective and categorical in outlining how the stipulated strategies would bring benefit to the disabled children. This paper develops an ideal school curriculum, that normal student’s s well as analyses disabilities in students, Activity teaching plan, teaching staff, administration, Parent involvement and communication, type of programs that support the disabilities as well as professional development for teachers
Our mission is to ensure all children are given a firm learning foundation based on a curriculum that caters for the interests of both normal and disabled students so as enhance equality and fairness in education to all in the society.
Our vision is to excellent institution that provides an all inclusive curriculum and teaching process that cater for both normal and disable children in the society. We cherish children and their development is our core pleasure. Towards this, we have vision that each child must be handled individually and given all the appropriate attention, he or she requires. This will go a long way in providing the society with well educated and fully developed citizens. In addition, the curriculum embraces the concept of both subject based learning and socio-physical and individual learning therefore it is engaging intellectually to children and teachers
NAEYC position statement
“Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8” (naeyc, 2009).In line with this position statement, our curriculum embrace the values of appropriate practice and offering of education programs with lays a firm foundation for further learning.
Curriculum Development Strategies and Lesson Plan
Learning curriculum “is a comprehensive learning plan that focuses on individual and organizational advancement,” (Print, p. 3). It is a widespread plan aimed at enhancing staffs’ competence needed in the overall improvement of learning for the benefit of the disabled children. Curriculum development should clearly distinguish of strands, domains and dimensions in curriculum development for academic programs that would be beneficial to students with disabilities.
The aim of providing curriculum development for students with disabilities should be driven by equal opportunities for all. According to Blueprint for Government Schools as quoted by Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, (p. 10), “All students, irrespective of the school they attend, where they live or their social and economic status, have an entitlement to a high-quality school education and a genuine opportunity to succeed.” The following learning curriculum has been developed to comprehensively address the challenges and needs of children with disabilities in the society. The table below outlines a how these parameters can be interrelated and linked in development of curriculum.
Methods of assessment and Evaluation
Children are evaluated based on individual progress in each category of normal and disable children. Since the curriculum contains both subject based learning program and socio-physical learning programs, it is prudent to note that an adequate assessment and progress evaluation will incorporate the two concepts at individual level. However, the curriculum will follow the guideline given by National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Types of Student Disabilities
Learning disability, (LD) is a neurological condition with a number of conditions that cause significant inability to perceive, audio-visual or special information or a blend of all these conditions. LD is a condition that can affect anybody with normal intelligence with ability to understand and use verbal or print language. LD has a number of impairments that include; reading, writing, and solving mathematics problems; otherwise known as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia respectively. They exhibit a number of trends that greatly vary within a given condition alone. The difference between intellectual ability and learning achievement/output is used to gauge the level of LD. The common symptoms of LD include; abnormal spelling errors, word abbreviation, letter inversion, and omission among others. LD is a condition that can be established when there are unexpected results following academic examination of students.
The second disability common with students is Asperger’s syndrome. A neurological dysfunction results to autistic spectrum disorder. Victims of Asperger syndrome may look just like ordinary student concerning intellectual ability. However, they have other characteristics that make academics less reachable. Asperger syndrome also known as autism, mainly affect students in handling computing and mathematical problems. “The challenges faced by children with AS may look a lot like those of children with NLD, including problems with high anxiety, sensitivity to stimulation, need of structure, lack of social skills, tendency for hypertalk, and postural clumsiness,” (Lynn and Lynn, p. 94). Nevertheless, a range of curriculum modifications has led to significant success in achieving better results in a number of disciplines.
Psychiatric disability is an example of mental disability that is common among students too. Although the conditions may not have significant effects on disabled students’ learning ability, psychiatric disabilities may lead to weird behaviors. Examples of psychiatric disability behaviors are: lack of concentration, disruptiveness, short memory lapse, and general fatigue among other unique behaviors. Psychiatric conditions include depression, anxiety and schizophrenia that occur mainly at the late teens. Schizophrenia results in drastic drop in performance or uncoordinated thoughts and to aid curb this condition; professional medical examinations are called for. On the other hand, depression is a temporary common condition that can be caused by social, academic and other sorts of pressure. Anxiety may be a resultant effect of stress reaction and a severe case may lead to reduced concentration or slow learning.
In addition, vision impairment is a disability that disrupts normal learning in class. There are a number of causes of vision impairment and these include glaucoma, brain injuries, hereditary congenital conditions; for instance, albinism. Other causes are viruses, and effects of eye infections. The degree to which these causes affect vision impairment depend on the extend age at which a victim is affected and the level of damage caused. Vision impairment can be corrected via use of corrective lenses or via use of adaptive equipment. Extra time for learning is of essence for students with vision impairments to enable them read and write by use of such devices as scanners and magnifiers. Therefore, modifications of curriculum should address these needs. Other forms of disabilities among students are; hearing impairment, speech impairment, and any other conditions that may disrupt normal learning.
Learning environment, which is conducive, is important to early childhood development. Towards this, it is prudent to note that children are taught in classes that not only provide a conducive environment for learning but also addresses the aspirations and enthusiastic nature of a child. This will make it easy to follow the develop curriculum hence faster learning process.
Lesson Programs that Support Children with Disabilities
Students with disabilities have special needs that ought to be addressed were they to benefits from lessons and activities more comprehensively. To begin with, students physically, sensorial and cognitively handicapped can benefit from art activities that require vision and performance. Music and dance activities would be basic in instilling reading and phonological skills. In addition, their public speaking skills can be enhanced via theater activities. Visual activities will help the students recall learnt facts with a little ease and this will be essential in capturing main ideas. By play and acting, they can recount details to the main idea. Higher order thinking and inferential skills can be nurtured by giving students opportunity to draw or compose songs.
The second activity involves teaching students with disabilities how to write. There is always difficulty in class concerning curriculum modification due to special needs of students. Students with physical and mental disabilities have a very different response to curriculum as compared with normal students. Moreover, the nature of disability alone calls for modification of curriculum for successful learning process. Examples of such modification include; use of graphic organizers, large print materials, and instructional scaffolding. Besides, teachers should adopt different instructional procedures and curriculum materials to prepare students uniquely in achieving learning objectives. Teachers should therefore carry out specific modification to the standard curricula to break the learning barrier for students with special needs.
Another important skill is teaching life skills to children with mental retardation. The primary goal of restructuring conventional school curriculum for special education is to satisfy the needs of students with disabilities and help them lead a full life in future. The case of mental retardation calls for designing a curriculum that will ensure students with mental retardation lead an independent life. Hence, curriculum should as diverse as possible when it comes to skills development. Curriculum should be age appropriate, and chronological in nature. In this way, the curriculum will address meaningful codependence, and a problem solving approach to issues in the society, school and at workplace.
The next strategy looks at the ways of addressing needs of disabled students in science subjects. Science lessons should be modified just like the case for art activities; use of graphic organizers, instructional scaffolding among others. Different approaches should be developed for students with physical, sensory, cognitive or emotional difficulties. Science subjects call for additional practice time and time of handing in assignments for students with disabilities. The IDEA Amendments of 1997 allow for adoption of general education system for students with disabilities. The agreement recognizes the provision of additional curricular materials for special needs students. Teachers must therefore make necessary modifications to normal lesson plans to cater for these learning needs in science subjects.
The same strategies should be adopted for modifying curricula in Social Studies and music lessons. In music, Walker, (pp. 38-48) notes that, “By means of music, we can assist these children to come to maturity in many ways. Music confers non-musical benefits that have particular consequences for pupils with special needs.” However, Mathematics requires a very different approach. In Mathematics, it is not only disabled students who face program modification but also student with LD; though, the former faces more severe cognition problems.
An example is a student with spina bidina who would find it hard to understand mathematical questions. According to Bessel as quoted by (Montague, 2010) “Children with chronic illnesses such as children surviving cancer, who have undergone intrusive medical treatments, often display delayed but prolonged attention, short-term memory, and other cognitive problems that interfere with school success.” There have been instructional programs; for instance, solve it that has aided students with an array of cognitive impairments. Mesley as quoted by (Montague, 2010), affirms that “Solve It! with modifications, was found to be effective for three adolescents with spina bifida in a single-subject research study.” The main modification for handling mathematics among disabled students should be slowing down the pace of instruction, provision of flip charts, and advancing from a one step-problem solving mechanism to two-step problems. This procedure will give motivation to disabled students that will in turn improve the overall performance in mathematics.
Models of Professional Development for Teachers
Teachers who are responsible for undertaking the daunting task of teaching children with disabilities need specialized training and professional development. Four models have always been used. These models include:
Groups of teachers meet to discuss texts or modeled lessons, view videotapes of classroom events, or analyze children’s work products. A facilitator guides the discussions; however, participants generally set their own goals for the next session.
Strengths;—contextualized in classroom settings, this model can be an excellent combination of the teacher’s voice and expertise. If well facilitated, a study group allows teachers to interact with and learn from each other in a true learning community.
Mathematics lessons are modeled by a facilitator, classroom teacher, or peer educators. Often these lessons are videotaped for later review in a study group.
Strengths;—Lessons modeled in real classrooms provide authenticity to any innovation. The familiar excuse, ‘It won’t work in my class!’ is best addressed with this model.
“Trainer of Trainers” Workshop Model
It is a training model that prepares and guide teachers to be teacher leaders in both schools and in the society. This model requires that teachers learn new content and/or teaching strategies and present them at a workshop or institute for other teachers.
Strengths;—in well-organized workshops, teachers have the opportunity to both learn mathematics as learners and as teachers. Because they experience both roles, they beyond doubt, become members of the “learning community” and learn with the primary purpose of teaching others.
Collaboration between Novices teachers and Experts
Combinations of this nature are geared towards facilitation and collaboration between beginners and experienced teachers or pre-service and in-service teachers. In the best scenarios, the teachers work hand in hand in a coaching relationship, both teaching and observing children as they learn mathematics and other subjects.
The benefits of this program are that both novices and experts learn to be part of this kind of model, which goes a long way in increasing collaboration. The excitement of new ideas is enormous and motivational while the blending with well-established methods can result in real learning for both teachers and students.
In other cases, the collaboration between novices and experts is widely accepted and if study groups and lesson modeling are included, powerful professional development occurs. In other cases, the trainer of trainers’ workshop model produces a strong cadre of mathematics teachers who in turn work in collaboration with other teachers in study groups or modeling lessons. In still other cases, teachers need to be introduced to new mathematics ideas or innovations slowly and observe many teaching models before they are ready to come together as a community of learners, collaborate with novices, or participate in study groups. The principle that there is not one perfect model is essential to this idea of focused professional development. “Teachers need to be introduced to new mathematics ideas or innovations slowly and observe many teaching models before they are ready to come together as a community of learners, collaborate with novices, or participate in study groups” (EENET, 2010).
Parent involvement and Communication Plan
Communication is very important in running education program. This is because parents should be aware of the kind of education their children receive, evaluation and grading system. In addition, it is prudent to know when children should be in school and when they should be collected. This will go a long way in creating harmony in running the school. Children with mental or intellectual disabilities face enormous challenges throughout their course of life. It is prudent for parents to guide the child passionately through a number of learning process. This process includes physical education and plays an important role in reducing negative health problems in children with psychological or cognitive impairments. Parents are not only involved in the learning assistance but they are also involved in the provision of financial support of the schools catering for the children with special needs. This means that they should provide some specialized learning aids to children while they are at home.
Setting up school for normal and disabled young children is a daunting task that must be articulately mastered. Conventional curricula have always assumed that all students are equal. However, as found out in this research paper, there are a number of issues that should be addressed before equal education is availed to the disabled students in school. A well designed early childhood schools and K-8 school for instance have been found ideal for catering for the needs of students in class and the community at large. Rather than implement academic programs tailor made for normal students, there has to be serious modification of those structures to benefit students with disabilities. It is not only the physically handicapped students who should be considered disabled but also those with learning disabilities and mild cases of mental, physical, or any form of abnormalities. Thus, we must find amicable solutions to promotion of equal rights and opportunities for the disabled students.