We have refined the Stepping Stones Pre-School Program to focus on special education within mainstream classrooms with the same objective of achieving positive outcomes for children with special needs.
Children with disabilities are among the world’s most marginalized and excluded children. We know that every child has the ability to learn but the way children learn and how much knowledge they can absorb can vary considerably — especially for a child with special needs. As a society we owe all children a chance to reach their potential, so it is important to create the best possible learning environment for that to happen. That’s why we support mainstreaming special-needs children into regular classrooms rather than assigning them exclusively to special education classes.
Our Support Measures Include:
Appropriate building facilities
The places devoted to instruction must have ventilation and natural lighting. They will also have the necessary architectural conditions to facilitate access, movement and communication, and elimination of barriers.
Special teaching methods and materials
In the case of those with sensory alterations (visual, auditory), priority must be placed on: strategies aimed at fostering and promoting alternative means; strategies which enable learners to relate, in an explicit way, learning experiences; spatial organization; learners grouping, in order to make the most of their visual and auditory possibilities; and teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil interaction.
The reading-writing teaching methods for pupils with visual disabilities should be mentioned. Those pupils who cannot have access to the ink reading-writing method will have to use Braille. In this case, tactile sensory stimulation and space-time orientation will have to be fostered.
Pupils with auditory disabilities have to learn to communicate by alternative means: sign language, bimodal system, etc., which have their own methodological guidelines and that can be combined, in certain occasions, with oral re-education.
Pupils with motor problems have to be assisted in the specific needs of mobility and the manipulation of objects, favoring mobility in the classroom and access to didactic resources, as well as prioritizing oral and visual explanations in order to help them understand messages.
In cases of pupils with serious developmental disorders, it is necessary to turn to specific methodologies aiming at the development of oral communication or alternative systems. Imitation learning, modeling and mediation (physical, oral aids, etc.) techniques, incidental methodology, and reinforcement are some of the most specific guidelines.
Furthermore, space must be arranged according to their needs and adapted to the instruments, equipment and technical aids required by these pupils, allowing for the possibility of creating different layouts and functional arrangements in order to promote interaction and communication with adults and among themselves.