It is important for parents, teachers and tutors to remember that before students are students, they are children. And children are built to play. They learn through playing from the time they are very small, and continue to grow mentally, emotionally and physically when they are encouraged to use their imaginations and play. This is especially true when helping students with disabilities. Traditional worksheets and lessons may not be the way that these children learn the best, and a good teacher/tutor strives to find the way that the student feels the most successful and teach them accordingly. Physical play, classic board games and sensory play are great ways to step out of the box and help to stimulate the brains of developing students, regardless of their ability level.
Research shows that babies who are exposed to different types of sensory activities develop fine motor and problem solving skills faster than those who don’t have exposure to this type of play. Sensory play involves using one or more of the senses to learn, play and explore their environment. Water, sand and rice are common tactile manipulative that students enjoy touching. Incorporating finger paint, clay and soap are great ways to get their hands dirty and their brains working. Sensory play is messy, but it has the ability to unlock doors in the mind of a child who is struggling with a particular concept or subject. Something as simple as using rocks or marbles to count out during a math lesson is a great way to include the senses in their learning.
A excellent incentive for kids to stay focused and do their best during a tutoring session is by promising a fun game session at the end. Students will look forward to what they think is a break in their learning, but really it is a continuation of the lesson, just in a different form. Using board games or card games to break up a lesson is a great way to approach the same lesson from a different point of view. Classic board games like checkers help with visual perception, color recognition and hand-eye coordination. Your local bookstore is stocked with the latest and greatest board games that are both fun and educational. You can find a child-friendly board game for almost any subject, from vocabulary to geometry. Scrabble and Boggle are great games to improve reading and letter recognition, and you can use counting Monopoly money to teach everything from counting and sorting to interest and income. By incorporating a fun game into learning, students will be more engaged and excited about the material covered.
If you live in a place where it’s realistic to spend time outside, take advantage of it! Think of different ways you can cover the same material by being outside instead of at a table. It’s easy and fun to put together a scavenger hunt for the student to find various shapes outside, helping with their understanding of geometry. Dropping things of various weights off of an elevated surface and recording the time it takes for each to reach the ground is a hands-on experiment in speed, gravity and velocity. Weather lessons, reading lessons, measurement, and countless other lessons can all be taken outside and will do wonders for students who are bored with the same old atmosphere and need something new and exciting.
Students with learning disabilities aren’t the only ones who can benefit from different teaching methods. All students can make major improvement when they like what and how they are learning. When a tutor focuses on the child as a child first, and a student second, major breakthroughs can be made in the arena of education.