Celebrating Learning Disabilites Month

October is Learning Disabilities (LDs) Awareness Month across Canada. According to Stats Canada, learning disabilities are the fastest growing type of disability not associated with aging. How does this affect us as educators?

It is our responsibility to know what learning disabilities are and how to best support our students. The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada has great resources to inform our learning and teaching. We have eleven Learning Disabilities Associations to choose from and your nearest one can be selected here.

So how do we celebrate Learning Disabilities Awareness Month?

“An educated and understanding teacher can ease many of the hurdles a child with a learning disability experiences in the classroom” as quoted by the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba.

Now is the time to share your knowledge and understanding of learning disabilities with your peers, students and parents. The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario has a great poster to promote understanding of LD’s:

Awareness-Month-Poster_w

Enjoy sharing your knowledge and understanding this Learning Disabilities Awareness Month!

Open-Ended Playing with the First Look Light Table Kit

Look at this great resource!

So as you probably know if you are a regular reader, I am a big fan of light tables. Adding light to an activity, brightens everything, including my attention span!

This was the first time we tried out this resource, the First Look Light Table Kit so I laid it all out, showed Daisy the contents and let her explore. There are over 300  pieces in this kit and I couldn’t fit them all on the table!

IMG_3174w

Daisy set to work matching colours:

IMG_3177w

Clear Big Buttons were matched with colourful leaf, flower and butterfly transparencies.

IMG_3178w

Here Daisy has matched the shapes of the Clear Big Buttons and the Fancy Stringing Rings.

I have realised the importance of letting children explore independently, without the restrictions of set tasks or outcomes. Simply playing.

The rule:

New Resource = Open Ended Exploration

The chance to fully explore a resource without the pressure of outcomes, allows children to follow their own thought patterns and investigate their own theories.

As teachers we are often too quick to narrow a resource into a set learning activity and then we wonder why students are playing with the resources rather than doing the activity we set! The pressure of following curriculum and meeting teaching targets means we often sacrifice open ended exploration.

ECE’s are wonderful at setting up explorations free from set outcomes. “Invitations” are happening frequently in daycare and preschool rooms. This carries into kindergarten where teachers still recognise the need for play based learning.

My wish: play based learning with open-ended exploration continues through elementary school.

Is this possible while still meeting curriculum targets?

My answer is yes, what is yours?

Learning to Tie Shoe Laces

A pair of cool black and purple boots are just longing to be worn.. but they can’t… until the owner can tie her shoelaces!

As a teacher, I understand the need for children to be independent; dress themselves, do their zips, take out their own earrings for swimming (yes, yuck) and change their own shoes. Hence these lovely shoes cannot yet be worn.

Wood Lacing High-Top to the rescue!

The diagram on the bottom of the shoe helps parents and teachers figure out how to tie a shoelace. It turns out that something you do every day is actually quite a process.

We used the over, under and then introduced a big tree and a bunny who runs around the big tree, into the bunny hole and off pops he. I think it is a knitting rhyme but works well here too.

Yeah, after much practice, one lace done. Much more practice needed but it is a great start!

How do you encourage independence in the classroom or home?

Would you like to win a Wood Lacing High-Top?

All you need to do is one of the following:

Before Friday November 23rd, 2012, 4 pm Central Time.

This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Looking forward to hearing from you and good luck!

Other great products for learning to dress include the Dress-a-pillar and the learning boards.