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No Child Left Behind

Instructing Children with Special Needs

“No one can question that children are entitled to the fundamental necessities of life: love and attention, food and shelter, health
care and education.”
- Special Education Act of 2008

In 2008, Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago introduced an act which seeks to protect and promote the rights of children with
special need to quality education and to take appropriate steps to make such accessible to them.
1
The act establishes at least one
(1) special education center for each school division and at least three (3) special education centers in big school divisions.

In May 2010, the act was finally approved during the 3rd reading of the 14th Congress
2
. While government statistics reveal that
10 to 13 percent of the country's school children suffer from a form of physical, mental, emotional or behavioral disability, this
statistic is currently not supported by the 1,176 SpEd teachers in 155 special education centers in the public education system.
Furthermore, this number of SpEd teachers and centers only addresses a staggering three percent of students with special needs.
3


Now then as educators—Kumon Educators, we can play an active role in contributing to the government’s effort in promoting
the rights of children with special needs and recognize their role in the national development. There are 365 days in a year, and
the chance of a child with special need entering your center is huge. But with each child entering are the questions do we allow
this child to enrol? How will I instruct him or her? Will the Kumon Method work for him?

Well we probably all know the answer to the last question—you’ll never know unless you give it a try. So let us give it a try by
trying to get to know who these children are and what journey they will be in Kumon using the figure below:


1
Special Education Act of 2008
2
Autism Society Philippines, June 2010
3
Autism Society Philippines, July 2012
Diagnostic Test
and Study
Projection
Basic Instruction
Communication
The content and procedure used to give the
diagnostic test, to decide on a starting point, and to
start studying are the same for normal children and
children with disabilities. -Pointers at the Beginning
of Study, Tsukushinbo Vol. 3

These three concepts are nothing new to Kumon. We do it every
day in our centers. A child, even with a special need starts with a
Diagnostic Test.

When deciding the diagnostic test level, communication is the key!
Just like in the case of normal children, it is the parents who can
provide us information that will help us gain an idea of the ability
of the child.While it is understandable that some Instructors may
doubt the capacity of the child to take the diagnostic test,
especially after hearing information from the parents, one thing to
keep in mind is that symptoms and abilities differ even for children
with the same disability type. The key is to take a good look of the
child and observe the disability from the aspects of disability type
and symptoms, which we further discuss in the second point: Basic
Instruction.


Similar to the Diagnostic Test, instructing children with special needs is not far from the Basic Instruction Principles. What is
important, as mentioned earlier, is to know and observe the disability from the aspects of disability type and symptoms.
Symptoms and Disability Types (a simple illustration)
Legend
B: This symptom can be seen in nearly all cases
A: This symptom can be seen in over half the cases
Disabilit
y

Symptom
Autis
m
Mentall
y
Retarde
d
Down
Syndro
me
Deaf,
hard of
hearin
g
LD/A
DHD
Cerebr
al
Paraly
sis
Instruction
Mentally
Retarded
A B B ~ ~ A Repetition is Vital
Repeat sets until the topic is mastered. Also, it is best
to prioritize the improvement of their work skills and
the ability to concentrate upon enrollment. Instruct
them so that they become proficient in completing the
standard completion time within X minutes or close to
X minutes.

Improve their Vocabulary
Increase their vocabulary through the use of such
methods as learning songs, talking to them, and
reading to them. In addition, rather than logical
explanations, it is best to have them learn through
experience and actions. This is best practiced in letting
students try solving problems with guiding functions
or those written in the example box rather than
explaining the calculation procedure verbally.

Develop Motor Skills through Supplementary
Learning Materials
Because most of these children may not be capable of
quick movement, we should ensure that supplemental
activities are done on a steady pace. Practicing (or
playing) with supplementary learning materials like
the Magnetic Number Board can help them develop
their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Gradually increasing the number of chips that they
need to place can help in slowly improving their pace.
No interest in
people or things
B A ~ ~ A ~ Constant Communication
In reality, these children can actually be interested in
things or people. However, they are not capable of
expressing this interest or concern. Therefore, it is
important that we talk to them often and discover
what they like. Praise them more than you would
usually praise a student. Also, when transitioning to a
new learning focus, there is a tendency that they will
refuse to cooperate. We can prevent this by showing
them the new learning focus in advance.

Keep Calm and Make Calm
Children like these may throw a tantrum from time to
time. They may cry, screech, or even hurt themselves.
Incidents like these will normally cause panic.
However, it is probably best to calm them down by
quietly holding them, rubbing their back, and
soothingly talk to them about something different
Hyperkinetic,
restless
B ~ ~ ~ B ~ Early Stage of Enrolment
In cases where a sense of anxiety brings about
hyperactivity:
1. Have the mother stay by their side in the
early stages of enrollment.
2. In relation to children who walk around the
Center repeatedly, in a lot of cases the child will settle
down after walking around a number of times.

Know what their interest is
Observe what attracts their interest and start the
learning routine from this. Often the main cause of
hyperactivity is an interest in something.

Draw their Attention
1. Show them an example of learning material
(ie. Worksheets, supplementary materials)
2. Next, progress by working on the material
together, then by getting them to do it by themselves.
3. Continue to read aloud even if the child
leaves their seat. (granted that their ears are still
listening…)

Create an Environment in which they are able to
learn
If there is something that easily distracts the attention
of the child, hide it from view or remove it from their
field of vision
Speech
Problems
B A A ~ A A Enhance Vocabulary through Verbal Instruction
1. Especially for Reading students, always
remember to try and increase their vocabulary by
letting them hear a lot of different words, through
singing, talking to them and reading to them
2. Use short sentences as possible, pronounced
clearly and unhurriedly, sharing only the most
necessary information
3. Mix body and hand movements
4. If they grow confused with various
instructions or points in the one conversation, only
communicate one instruction or point per
conversation.
5. Clearly tell them what they should do (ie.
Put your pencil in your bag)

Learning through examples
It is difficult for them to understand abstract or logical
explanations, especially with their limited vocabulary,
but it is easy for them to understand what is in front of
them. So let them see examples. At the same time, say
a few words to them.

Maximize Supplementary Materials
Even when they are learning with supplementary
learning materials or from worksheets, vocalize the
contents of what they are doing, so that they can
understand what it is they are doing.
















“Don’t be frustrated. Don’t make comparisons with other children. Don’t give up.”
When Instructors and parents see the child staying at the same worksheet level for a long time, don’t be frustrated. Don’t make
comparisons with other children but rather compare the child to his or her former self.
Lastly, don’t give up. Keep trying, when one strategy did not work, try another. Just like what our late founder Toru Kumon said,
there is never good enough. There is always something better.


Like a normal child, communication in terms of praises is also
essential in instructing students with special needs. This is very
important if we want to keep their motivation or make them repeat
a desirable action. However, children with disabilities tend to
receive more criticisms than praises and more negative reactions
than encouragements.
To prevent this, it is important that we discover and develop the
child’s strengths and capabilities. They should be given
opportunities in our centers where they can utilize their strengths in
their work. That way, we can maximize their capabilities and, at
the same time, develop their self-confidence by making them
experience achievements.
However, reinforcement in the center is not enough as most of the
child’s learning happens at home. There should also be consistency
in our praises. Having that said, we should teach the parents on
how to properly instruct and reinforce their children at home so we
can further strengthen the child’s study habit. By doing so, we can
create a good study cycle through our praises and encouragements
which can further develop the child’s overall study condition.