All Children are Exceptional!

In my practice I teach all children – I am an educator! I teach children who are talented & gifted, children that speak a different language at home, children with slow auditory processing, children with ADHD, children with Autism, children with Sensory Integration Disorder, and children from divorced families – all these children are children with special needs…they are Exceptional.

During a recent workshop on “Working with Children with Special Needs”, I asked 125 early childhood educators, “Who works with children with special needs?” and maybe 10 people raised their hands. I expressed to the participants that we should all have our hands up, because if we work with children we work with children with special needs. Especially the population from birth to five, since most of the time it is the educator or caregiver that identifies the needs of the child and creates interventions to support that child.

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Early intervention is a critical aspect in a child’s development. Early intervention is defined as what we do to support development before a delay worsens. There are many strategies that you can use to support children early in life to minimize or avoid many delays.

Here are some of those strategies we have identified:

  • Reading to young children daily for a minimum of 15 minutes (don’t forget to add American Sign Language (ASL) to bring the story alive, make connections to vocabulary, and enhance comprehension skills.)
  • Singing to them and with them (don’t forget to add ASL to help the child make meaningful connections.)
  • Holding and cuddling – touch is incredibly helpful to the growth and development of a child.
  • Tummy Time – build those strong muscles, strengthen their vision, and prepare them for school success, especially in reading, writing, and math!
  • Play with them, let them play with other young children or take the lead in the play while you follow…just have fun & PLAY.
  • Provide opportunities and activities that cross or meet at the midline – ASL is wonderful for this!
  • Utilize ASL to support language development and the additional benefits will be exciting to watch!
  • Avoid TV time for children under 2 years of age…their vision and hearing is not completely wired in the brain to handle the constant stimulus that TV provides.
  • Talk to them, support their growing vocabularies and help them express their feelings – ASL is a fabulous strategy to enhance this area of development as well.
  • Outdoor play – exposing children to nature has many sensory benefits, don’t miss out on all the opportunities to grow, develop, and learn.
  • Incorporate self-help/adaptive skills, such as dressing, feeding, grooming into dramatic play areas and daily routines.
  • Sensory integration activities – have you introduced ‘water marbles’ to your children yet? They are fabulous!
  • Opportunities for socialization and opportunities for children to learn to problem solve and work out their own disputes – recess is an invaluable time for children to learn to do this. Help encourage them to think through their problems and challenges, provide support as needed, and then stand back and watch them solve their problems. Remember, modeling is a key to success in this area. Take time to work through the process of mediation.
  • Activities to promote fine motor skills, such as play-dough, coloring, and building with blocks.
  • Provide multi-sensory approaches to learning – Using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach to plan lessons is a great way to ensure that you are meeting all your children’s needs.
  • Help children experience and learn about the world through play.Play is known as a child’s work; any time you can incorporate learning activities into play a child will blossom and grow. Be play based rather than academic based. Believe me they will learn wonderful skills and knowledge through play which will prepare them for lifelong learning success.

Most of all, remember that the children you work with are EXCEPTIONAL! Provide them with the individual opportunities they need to become successful and healthy individuals.

Strategies to Support all Children

We value meeting the needs of all learners and have created resources that are developed around play and American Sign Language. They encourage language and literacy development as well as social-emotional and math development through play and sensory play.

To view our abundant resources please visit one of the teacher resources sites like Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook and have fun incorporating ASL into your program!

Happy Signing II