Content Domains in the Standard Curriculum
The law requires that all children have access to the standard or general curriculum, which includes at a minimum math, science, and language arts, and may also include fine arts, physical education, and social studies. Most of these content domains includes the development of foundational cognitive or reasoning skills such as the ability to sort, classify and categorize, recognize principles of conservation, understand the function of objects, and so forth.
In Program Planning you learned that Active Learning is a total approach that can be used to teach any content in either the standard or expanded core curriculums. It goes without saying that you need to keep a number of things in mind when planning implementing any instruction with a child who is visually and multiply impaired or deafblind.
Choose Materials and Equipment to Match Goals
First, what skills are you focusing on in the activity? Infusing multiple skills into an activity insures that the child has many, many opportunities to practice skills throughout the day. Repetition is one of the key points of Active Learning. However, you must match the equipment and materials to the goals/objectives you have for the child. For example, if you are working on sets in Math you should select objects that are identical and group multiples to contrast with a single object, for example one spoon with multiple spoons.
Make Sure Materials and Activities are Motivating
Motivation is important, so you must design the environment or select materials that are reinforcing to the child to arouse curiosity and activity. Select a variety of materials that tap into the child’s sensory pathways and preferences. Many of these can be based on objects found in nature, have properties that allow them to float or sink (science), include sets of different numbers (math), have interesting textures or sounds when explored (sensory efficiency), be stackable, or put together and pulled apart (cognitive skills). What does the child do with these objects during play? Explore using hands, throw, stack, take apart, put inside, pour? The things the child does with the activities builds cognitive skills and constructive play skills.
Select Activities that are Developmentally Appropriate
Having activities that are developmentally appropriate is also very critical to the child’s learning process. If the child’s overall developmental is at a 6-9 month level, what is reasonable to expect them to do? If you are interacting with them, what educational treatments can you expect to use? Remember in Active Learning we want the child to experience success repeatedly so we target skills the child is beginning to demonstrate and skills he/she has just mastered.
For children at the earliest developmental levels, foundational concepts and skills are being developed. These skills are not developed one at a time, but instead are developing simultaneously. For example, learning to use your vision is related to your ability to move, and both are related to language development. We often think of skills at this level as “pre-skills” or basic skills that lead to the development of more complex skills. So, if the child is going to learn to write for example, he first has to be able to pick up and hold a pencil, understand that words represent objects, actions, people, and places, be able to see individual letters and words, and be able to move the pencil on the paper to form the letters and words. All of these skills can be thought of as “pre-skills” to writing.
When designing activities that align to the academic content the child’s peers are focusing on we need to be mindful that learning is likely to be slower because of all the physical challenges this child faces. For this reason it is important to identify critical content and vocabulary to teach. If the child’s peers are learning five new concepts, is it reasonable to expect this child to learn all five? Probably not, so be selective.