I am, apart from an Autism mum and a blogger, a professional child carer. I have within my care a variety of children, of all ages from birth to 13. Some of these are neurotypical, some are Autistic and some have ADHD. All of them are individuals!
Each child that has come through my setting over the last 15 years has been different to every other child I have met. Each has their own interests and their own personalities. Each is at a different stage of their life with different things going on at school and home. Each starts at a different stage and progresses in their own way, at their own pace. Each child has their own way of learning.
I have learnt to ignore age and instead get to know individuals because I know that not every seven year old is the same. I have looked after quiet seven year olds that like to sit and read, seven year olds that constantly practice gymnastics, seven year olds that like drawing and seven year olds that just want to play football.
Some of my two and three year olds are interested in letters and books, they are learning sounds by listening to stories and pointing out letters. Some like sensory play, they learn about the world and language through talking, feeling and manipulating different textures. Some of my two and three year olds prefer to jump and climb and explore, they are learning motor skills and about their bodies. Each child learns in a different way at their own pace.
If every child is different and every child learns in a different way, why in schools are we teaching them all the same way?
Part of the problem at school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD is that they are being asked to fit into a norm that doesn’t exist. Children with Attention Deficit Disorders are expected to sit for an hour and work on one task. Children with Autism are expected to be able to cope with a lot going on around them and follow the same list of verbal instructions as everyone else. The list goes on.
I know a lot of teachers reading this might be ready to shout at me right now because it is so difficult with a class of thirty children to teach each one in an individual way. The problems are due to funding, class sizes and government tests that need to be prepared for. The whole system needs to change from the top down. Children’s individuality, SEN and disability need to be taken into account by those in charge as well as those teaching, because school can be a discouraging, scary place for those children that don’t fit the school mould.
And lets not just write of the kids that don’t fit the teaching styles at school. I was the 6 year old in trouble at school for drawing eyes in all my letters when I should of been making my letters look the same as everyone else’s, the way they should be. The truth is I got bored writing the same letter over and over in rows – they were more interesting with eyes because they could all look different! I now write every day and thousands of people read my ramblings but I’m sure if you forced me to write lines of neat O’s then some of them might just be looking at you! Maybe we shouldn’t be so strict on making people fit.
Surely if all children learn in different ways then we should be teaching all children the way they learn!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please feel free to follow my blog or like my Facebook page which I keep up to date with new posts as they are written. I also have a closed Facebook group for sharing days out and holiday ideas and tips. You can find me on Twitter @KidsOnTour1.