Creating learning environments that meet everyone’s needs.
This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play (more about that here).
For Marc, that means blending in his passion for the arts, more specifically music, and the beautiful connection that can be found from the power of song (click here for a beautiful example of learning positive affirmations through song).
What struck me most was Marc’s view on emergent curriculum; building on the interests of the children in our care, co-creating the environments where the children are ignited and filled with wonder (learn more here).
This is not a new theory. It’s a widely believed and supported theory.
But how does that apply to children who have special needs?
How does it apply to those who may not be able to voice their interests in the same way as the other children in a group do?
How do we create emergent curriculum and co-create environments for the children who have unrecognized abilities?
Unrecognized abilities. What a beautiful term (coined by Shafik Asante, shared by Marc).
I had never heard this term used in this way before and it struck me whole-heartedly.
When we have children in our care that have disabilities, visible or not, we work to support their inclusion into a group. And this, under these terms, is not very inclusive at all.
Looking at unrecognized abilities allows us to put the focus on the work we do as parents and educators, to find what makes this child special, what voice they have, the passions that ignite them in a way that works for them, what strengths they have to share with us.
This is a very different view from the traditional where we have been looking at it as the child’s disability as the barrier for inclusion.
With this view we are stating that it is all the things they cannot do that removes them from the group.
The barrier here is really our mindset.
Marc gave an example
This reshapes that initial thought of environments that allow everyone, including children with unrecognized abilities to be an active part of the community of little ones in your care.
By removing the barriers that exclude them, viewing these children as ALREADY part of the group, and finding the parts of us all that are common, we are changing our perception on what needs to be done.
This term has really opened my eyes to a new definition of community – one where everyone’s gifts are celebrated, where we can change how we look at our environment and adjust it to the needs of everyone in the room; where are all filled with wonder.
I would love to hear about your experience in co-creating environments for the children in your care – comment below or reach out to me directly here.
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