Lillian from learningdisabilities.info reached out to me with the below article about the benefits of using creativity to engage children with "learning disabilities". The article struck a chord with me (and not just because it references music). When I read the article that Lillian gave me, I agreed with every point except for one: the term "Learning Disabled".
I was told as a child that I had a learning disability. I was told as a third grader that I would likely never develop skills in reading or writing. Never.
For a long time, I believed it. I began to hate English class and see it as the challenge I would always face and never be able to overcome. I likely still have some bitterness from the teacher that told me I was "learning disabled". For me, it was crippling. God, help me forgive her and forgive myself for feeling so worthless and broken for so long.
You might think that based on my experience that I was upset to receive a request to publish an article on a subject that has been such a wound in my life. On the contrary. I'm thrilled! Because this gives me a chance to expound on the whole concept of "Learning Disabilities" and engage in conversation on this topic with the world.
Let me elaborate. Every time, I hear about "learning disabilities", it reminds me about the way we, as flawed human beings, interpret the world.
A Computer Metaphor
I wonder how many people reading this article have ever used a computer? (Go ahead and laugh.) Likely, everyone, right?
Now how many people are reading on a system run by Windows? How many on a system run by Apple? How many on a system run by Linux?
The real question is have you ever heard of Linux? That's the system that unsettles people the most people, most often. Why? Why would just reading the term "Linux", confuse people.
Only because Linux is the computer operating system that people are not familiar with. It's an open source OS that is not heavily advertised, and does not come as the default OS for most computers bought off-the-shelf at a Target or Walmart.
Is Linux Bad?
So if Linux is a different operating system, does that mean it's bad? I mean, it doesn't operate the same as Windows!
Correct. However, it's not supposed to operate like Windows. In fact, the differences bring many benefits like fewer viruses and no licensing fees : )
Now, if you've never used the system, you won't know how it works. Does that mean that Linux has an "operating disability?" I would argue it doesn't. I would argue that it is designed intentionally different.
Before I would say a person has a learning disability, I would much more prone to say that a teacher has a "teaching disability". But, I would never say that!!!
The beauty of diversity is that we are all designed to learn in different ways. We are not supposed to all be the same. However, our diversity is actually what makes teaching so difficult. Because while the student is held accountable for learning specific information, it's the teacher's job to help the student understand the information.
In the same way the computers have different operating systems, children have different perspectives on the world. When a child doesn't learn the same way another child, from my perspective, it doesn't mean that the child is "disabled" from learning. That doesn't even make sense to me. All human beings are designed to learn.
Why I like Lillian's article
Read Lillian's article below on "Using Creative Engagement as a Key Educational Tool for Learning Disabled Children" and tell me if there are any tactics that wouldn't be helpful for any child. We all learn in different ways. We can teach in different ways to make certain we can engage students as well.
Also, while I don't believe in "learning disabilities", I believe that many people believe in learning disabilities. And I hope they find this article so they can engage their wonderful, beautiful children in creative ways that inspire them.
Thank you, Ry E) Using Creative Engagement as a Key Educational Tool for Learning Disabled Children
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Children with learning disabilities can benefit tremendously through the arts. By engaging them creatively, they can learn and grow in alternative ways than using more structured subjects. Here is important information on engaging special-needs kids with creative activities.
A Terrific Tool
While some adults may consider the arts to be superficial pastimes for children, creative learning can be a vital teaching tool. This is particularly true for children with learning disabilities. Artistic activities can help kids with special needs navigate their challenges, gain confidence, and express themselves.
As LD Online points out, children who struggle in other school subjects can become discouraged, but when they are allowed to create their own music, dance moves, painting, or sculpture, they can gain confidence and feel empowered. Some professionals note special-needs children may discover otherwise hidden talents as well.
1. Encourage Your Child
Oftentimes, as parents, we can become caught up in how our kids’ activities affect us. We inadvertently limit their creativity because we’re thinking in terms of the mess we’ll have to clean up later or noise that will make the neighbor’s dog bark. Why not dedicate a room to your child’s creative learning?
Some research suggests it’s important your child’s creative workplace is free of distractions. By creating a hobby room that your youngster can mess around in, you alleviate your concerns about collateral damage, and you allow your child an opportunity to really get those creative juices flowing.
Along those same lines, give plenty of praise for your child’s work. The Child Development Institute explains that encouragement is an important part of helping your child develop. Focus on fun and find something in each effort you can compliment, such as the placement of a color or the persistence he or she has shown in the day’s session. With your loving praise, your child will feel proud and accomplished.
Here are some of the particular ways different activities benefit special-needs children.
2. Drawing, Painting, and Crafts
Children with learning disabilities can learn colors, shapes, contrasts, and boundaries through paint brushes, pastels, and crayons. You can also introduce your child to the joys and benefits of textile arts such as sewing and knitting. There is an abundance of guides and resources online to help you get started. Self-expression in two and three dimensions can encourage a child’s problem-solving ability. It’s also a great way to explore math-related concepts such as spatial relationships, proportions, and size.
3. Music and Dance
Special-needs kids can learn about rhythm, pitch, and sound through the beats of music, and dance helps children to learn coordination and motor control. They can learn about sequences and following directions and even counting. For some high-energy children, dancing could provide a much-needed physical outlet.
Not only is dancing great exercise, it can boost reading and writing concepts. For instance, it helps kids learn right from left. Similar letters become less confusing once they learn “b” is drawn with a stem on the left and “d” with a stem on the right. Also, consider introducing your child to the world of performing music. Learning an instrument has many benefits, and because it’s often taught in schools, you won’t have to spring for private lessons.
Singing helps children learn about timing and can promote their ability to project their voice and articulate. Songs can include hand movements to help with coordination and rhythm, and sign language can also be used.
Becoming involved in performance is a terrific way for children with learning disabilities to learn about teamwork and timing. They also can engage fully in a concept, and by acting it out, they learn about it in a very personal manner. Some studies note children with learning disabilities especially benefit from theater work because it engages both speaking and listening skills.
Acting helps special-needs children learn communication skills such as tone of voice, eye contact, and body language. It’s an opportunity to develop enunciation, to learn to speak when it’s appropriate, and to learn how to interact with others.
Engaging and fun!
Being creative allows your special-needs child to learn in exciting and unique ways. Be encouraging and focus on having fun! Your youngster will enjoy the creative outlet while developing and learning.
- Lillian Brooks