Because of the pandemic, I think my child has special needs as he/she has delays. How can the school help? 19 Apr 2022 - Daniel Curry, Director & Principal, Vega Schools
In pre-nursery, nursery and kindergarten especially, parents are very concerned about the delays they see due to the pandemic. Most of these delays have to do with interpersonal skills and shyness. For these young learners who are just now experiencing physical school for the first time, there will need to be sensitivity and patience as they make the transition.
Environment, including the pandemic, does not result in special needs
Most importantly, special needs are medically diagnosed and not a result of environment. Be reassured that the extended time at home and online for students cannot create a special needs diagnosis where there was none before. The delays due to environmental factors can and will be overcome when children are placed in the top schools in Gurgaon or elsewhere.
Progressive schools individualise learning
Good schools have progressive practices that focus on developing the individual skills of each child. Teachers in these schools get to know each child individually and, through ongoing assessment and interaction, get to know their areas of strength and weakness. Rather than develop lessons that are ‘one size fits all’, teachers will modify their work (also called differentiation) to ensure all students are engaged at the right level.
Academic gaps are easier to fill than social emotional skills gaps
Another indicator of a good school is that academics are just part of the overall curriculum. Character development, interpersonal skills, self-confidence, critical thinking, values like empathy and excellence, and collaboration are all important. It is in these areas specifically that children who have been isolated at home over the pandemic need extra support. The delays seen by parents typically fall into these categories.
The school should have a program that allows students to work on these areas. These are foundational and must precede to a large extent the specific academic curriculum. Students must be given time to acclimate to the school environment and adjust to being away from home and parents. They must have time and structured opportunities to make new friends and collaborate with them in play and in projects. Counselling services should be provided to support the transition and identify any additional needs.
Students who are comfortable learn best
There is a maxim that says ‘slow is smooth, and smooth is fast’; another is ‘go slow to go fast’. Essentially, time must be given at the front end to provide for a smooth transition without trying to push students. Once students are settled and comfortable, things pick up speed and they will quickly make up any lost ground. Remember that young children are remarkably resilient. They absorb new information and adjust with much more flexibility than adults.
Never put your child under pressure
Schools and parents shouldn’t make the mistake of feeling pressure or fear and then applying that pressure to students to achieve academically overnight or to make young learners spend hours in extra tuition sessions. This often leads to negative reactions which inhibit a smooth transition. Be patient and ensure your child is in a top pre school, nursery school or kindergarten school at the very least. These lessons hold true for all elementary grades who had limited exposure to physical school before the pandemic of the past two years.
Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher
If after a reasonable time for transition, you still have concerns about your child, contact the teacher. The teacher knows how the child is doing and should be able to address your concerns. Your school should also have a counsellor and special needs department to provide support.
Schools in Gurgaon, especially top Gurgaon schools pay a lot of attention to bringing children up to speed with all the pandemic related gaps. The Top 10 schools in Gurgaon will usually do even more to identify academic and skills gaps and address them individually. This requires a lot of patience and effort. Parents must work hard to identify and select good schools that will put in this extra effort. This is the most important thing they can do for their children.
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