How to Work With Struggling Learners and Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities and Art by Sharon Jeffus

Email me for lesson visuals sent in PDF format for you to download.

Copyright 2010

I remember being at a convention in New Jersey and an Air Force homeschool dad came up to me holding his new baby with Downe’s Syndrome in his arms.  This gentleman trained pilots.  He was truly the picture of a valiant soldier, and the contrast of his image holding this little bundle was truly remarkable.  He was such a proud papa.  His wife told me that he had built special furniture for their new son when he was born.   The other children in the family were preparing for a little prince with their gifts and ideas to help.

It was an experience I will never forget.   Learning comes to us in many ways.  When my new son Jonathan was diagnosed with being legally blind, I felt like I had been hit with a shovel and knocked to the floor.   It was a totally unexpected experience; being told he would have to go to a special school and would never be able to drive.  Both of those predictions by doctors were unfounded.  He had a job working as a computer programmer at age 20 in Nashville, TN.  He even passed his driver’s test (no night driving).

Yesterday I taught a young man with physical birth defects.  He made the most remarkable sculptures I have ever seen.  They were very tiny and very detailed.  He did this with one hand and only one finger on the other arm.  It was remarkable.  I was going to show him step by step how to do a dolphin, and he surprised me by doing a sculpture that I myself would be proud to call my own work!  How easy it is for us to put limitations on children with special needs.

Discovering the beautiful way God shows us in the way of education unique ways to reach our children is an unforgettable picture of God’s mercy.

Doing art with children with learning disabilities, is the wonderful way that success is not measured and tested to a certain standard., and success can be achieved by coming up with an original idea.

Albert Einstein, noted poor student with learning disabilities, has two very profound quotes that answer how to deal with learning problems:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”

Winston Churchill, one of my favorite people in history, also with known learning disabilities, said:

“I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.”

Finally, Walt Disney, famous creative genius in the arts said,

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Allowing your children to experience success by hard work is especially difficult when you know they have obstacles that other children do not.  A mother’s natural instinct is to protect.  But by doing and thinking too much for our children, we stunt their “growth by failure.”  I always try to share that Edison (another learning disabled genius) failed over 1000 times before inventing the light bulb.  How do we teach our children tenacity?  How do we toughen them to succeed in an ever more challenging world?

We teach them that failure is an opportunity for a greater success.  We teach them that it is important never to give up.  Teaching a child to stick to a problem and not give up is one of the most valuable lessons.  Here is a picture I use with younger children to illustrate this.  Put their face on the person.   The story of the rabbit and the tortoise is a great example of this tenacity.

Here are some art ideas for the following special needs:

Autistic: Hands on projects use that same principle of multisensory learning, combining visual, tactile, and verbal stimuli to teach new skills and concepts.

Drawing a frog such as the one below is a great fine motor skill activity.  You can teach basic phonics by teaching  the children the “og” family.  Draw a frog, a log, and a bog with the children.  You can purchase googly eyes to finish the project.  Talk about the other members of the family such as dog, fog, hog and so on. Go to  this website to hear a song about a frog: http://bussongs.com/songs/a_frog_went_acourtin.php

Show the children pictures of frogs and talk about habitat.  The song talks about a frog and a mouse.  I believe having an enjoyable discussion with children is a great encouragement to them.  It is fun to think about the song above; the idea of a frog courting a mouse.  Lots of science can be included in the lesson. I used to sing a song “Three Little Speckled Frogs” with children.  This is a perfect beginning math song as you subtract the frogs one by one.  http://artists.letssingit.com/barney-lyrics-3-little-speckled-frogs-71gbl1j

As you are singing about the frogs, talk about the word speckled and let the child put dots on the frog.  Tie in several concepts of vocabulary, science, phonics and art into each lesson.

.

Parents of special needs children have big challenges and lots of joys. Teaching art along with each lesson gives the children a chance to develop fine motor skills and have fun with learning!!!  Whatever the disability: autistic, ADD, ADHD, learning disabled, developmentally delayed, behavior disordered, deaf, blind, Down Syndrome, or physically handicapped children all enjoy an opportunity to be creative and independent in each lesson.  Sometimes having precut shapes and allowing children to put them together to create is good. Other times it is better for them to make the shapes.

Recognizing basic shapes is considered a math activity.  Teaching shading, shadow and texture to make something look real is considered art.

Allowing the older children to then create objects out of these basic shapes allows them to be creative.  With younger children, I start with a triangle and turn it into a cone by shading.  We then turn it into an ice cream cone and think of how many other things are the same shape!  I am always amazed with their ability to come up with ideas.  I have found that the minds of children are filled with creative ideas.  It is coming up with new ideas that will put them in a better position to compete in today’s society.

Children and teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have difficulty staying organized. Having less to keep track of can help.   I had the idea that teaching the colorwheel might be a good way to help children with organization.  You can color code their areas where they keep important learning tools.  All art materials go in the beautiful yellow shoebox they have painted.   All of their sports activities could go in blue.  All of their games could go in red.  Each child is different, but there are only three primary colors.  They can choose the most important things they use and group them into three categories; red, yellow and blue.  The secondary colors could be the items they only use on occasion.  Creating a beautiful container with the particular color on it can help them learn to put things away in the correct place.  You can even have them draw the items they want to put in each box, but be sure and have them do the items in different shades of just the one primary or secondary color.

ADHD affects every aspect of a child’s life. Typically, his bedroom and closet are disorganized. Toys, clothes, and school papers often cover every surface and fill every nook and cranny.

Go to this website to read more about this: Help ADHD Child Achieve Organization: Less is More for a Child Who Struggles With Self-Management http://specialneedsparenting.suite101.com/article.cfm/help-adhd-child-achieve-organization#ixzz0gqZ37SKR

Another wonderful idea for colorwheel activities is an “It’s time to say I love you!” We make a clock with the face of the colorwheel and then talk about time, and what time to they like to say “I love you” to someone.  Purchasing circle stickers and allowing them to put a sticker by each number of the clock is very helpful for fine motor skill development.

Art can be a very important part of live for children with Downe’s Syndrome.  Go tot this website to see a precious child giving an art show: http://users.psln.coDecember 5 – Weston , Florida — You are cordially invited to a first of its kind art show! The work of Daniela Jahn Cano, a 24-year old artist with Down Syndrome, will be unveiled during a reception December 5 at the Art Institute of Weston. The exhibit, which will highlight more than 80 of her works, will be held at 2900 Glades Circle, Suite 1600 in Weston. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. Makes plans to stop by December 5 to say hello to this remarkable young artist. The exhibit is free. For more information on the Art Institute of Weston, or this exhibit, phone them at 954-659-9050 or online at www.artinstitute.info

Art is a way to make learning a joy for you and your children, and a way to teach core subjects that delight the minds of reluctant learners.

Learning Disabilities and Art by Sharon Jeffus

Copyright 2010

I remember being at a convention in New Jersey and an Air Force homeschool dad came up to me holding his new baby with Downe’s Syndrome in his arms.  This gentleman trained pilots.  He was truly the picture of a valiant soldier, and the contrast of his image holding this little bundle was truly remarkable.  He was such a proud papa.  His wife told me that he had built special furniture for their new son when he was born.   The other children in the family were preparing for a little prince with their gifts and ideas to help.

It was an experience I will never forget.   Learning comes to us in many ways.  When my new son Jonathan was diagnosed with being legally blind, I felt like I had been hit with a shovel and knocked to the floor.   It was a totally unexpected experience; being told he would have to go to a special school and would never be able to drive.  Both of those predictions by doctors were unfounded.  He had a job working as a computer programmer at age 20 in Nashville, TN.  He even passed his driver’s test (no night driving).

Yesterday I taught a young man with physical birth defects.  He made the most remarkable sculptures I have ever seen.  They were very tiny and very detailed.  He did this with one hand and only one finger on the other arm.  It was remarkable.  I was going to show him step by step how to do a dolphin, and he surprised me by doing a sculpture that I myself would be proud to call my own work!  How easy it is for us to put limitations on children with special needs.

Discovering the beautiful way God shows us in the way of education unique ways to reach our children is an unforgettable picture of God’s mercy.

Doing art with children with learning disabilities, is the wonderful way that success is not measured and tested to a certain standard., and success can be achieved by coming up with an original idea.

Albert Einstein, noted poor student with learning disabilities, has two very profound quotes that answer how to deal with learning problems:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”

Winston Churchill, one of my favorite people in history, also with known learning disabilities, said:

“I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.”

Finally, Walt Disney, famous creative genius in the arts said,

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Allowing your children to experience success by hard work is especially difficult when you know they have obstacles that other children do not.  A mother’s natural instinct is to protect.  But by doing and thinking too much for our children, we stunt their “growth by failure.”  I always try to share that Edison (another learning disabled genius) failed over 1000 times before inventing the light bulb.  How do we teach our children tenacity?  How do we toughen them to succeed in an ever more challenging world?

We teach them that failure is an opportunity for a greater success.  We teach them that it is important never to give up.  Teaching a child to stick to a problem and not give up is one of the most valuable lessons.  Here is a picture I use with younger children to illustrate this.  Put their face on the person.   The story of the rabbit and the tortoise is a great example of this tenacity.

Here are some art ideas for the following special needs:

Autistic: Hands on projects use that same principle of multisensory learning, combining visual, tactile, and verbal stimuli to teach new skills and concepts.

Drawing a frog such as the one below is a great fine motor skill activity.  You can teach basic phonics by teaching  the children the “og” family.  Draw a frog, a log, and a bog with the children.  You can purchase googly eyes to finish the project.  Talk about the other members of the family such as dog, fog, hog and so on. Go to  this website to hear a song about a frog: http://bussongs.com/songs/a_frog_went_acourtin.php

Show the children pictures of frogs and talk about habitat.  The song talks about a frog and a mouse.  I believe having an enjoyable discussion with children is a great encouragement to them.  It is fun to think about the song above; the idea of a frog courting a mouse.  Lots of science can be included in the lesson. I used to sing a song “Three Little Speckled Frogs” with children.  This is a perfect beginning math song as you subtract the frogs one by one.  http://artists.letssingit.com/barney-lyrics-3-little-speckled-frogs-71gbl1j

As you are singing about the frogs, talk about the word speckled and let the child put dots on the frog.  Tie in several concepts of vocabulary, science, phonics and art into each lesson.

.

Parents of special needs children have big challenges and lots of joys. Teaching art along with each lesson gives the children a chance to develop fine motor skills and have fun with learning!!!  Whatever the disability: autistic, ADD, ADHD, learning disabled, developmentally delayed, behavior disordered, deaf, blind, Down Syndrome, or physically handicapped children all enjoy an opportunity to be creative and independent in each lesson.  Sometimes having precut shapes and allowing children to put them together to create is good. Other times it is better for them to make the shapes.

Recognizing basic shapes is considered a math activity.  Teaching shading, shadow and texture to make something look real is considered art.

Allowing the older children to then create objects out of these basic shapes allows them to be creative.  With younger children, I start with a triangle and turn it into a cone by shading.  We then turn it into an ice cream cone and think of how many other things are the same shape!  I am always amazed with their ability to come up with ideas.  I have found that the minds of children are filled with creative ideas.  It is coming up with new ideas that will put them in a better position to compete in today’s society.

Children and teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have difficulty staying organized. Having less to keep track of can help.   I had the idea that teaching the colorwheel might be a good way to help children with organization.  You can color code their areas where they keep important learning tools.  All art materials go in the beautiful yellow shoebox they have painted.   All of their sports activities could go in blue.  All of their games could go in red.  Each child is different, but there are only three primary colors.  They can choose the most important things they use and group them into three categories; red, yellow and blue.  The secondary colors could be the items they only use on occasion.  Creating a beautiful container with the particular color on it can help them learn to put things away in the correct place.  You can even have them draw the items they want to put in each box, but be sure and have them do the items in different shades of just the one primary or secondary color.

ADHD affects every aspect of a child’s life. Typically, his bedroom and closet are disorganized. Toys, clothes, and school papers often cover every surface and fill every nook and cranny.

Go to this website to read more about this: Help ADHD Child Achieve Organization: Less is More for a Child Who Struggles With Self-Management http://specialneedsparenting.suite101.com/article.cfm/help-adhd-child-achieve-organization#ixzz0gqZ37SKR

Another wonderful idea for colorwheel activities is an “It’s time to say I love you!” We make a clock with the face of the colorwheel and then talk about time, and what time to they like to say “I love you” to someone.  Purchasing circle stickers and allowing them to put a sticker by each number of the clock is very helpful for fine motor skill development.

Art can be a very important part of live for children with Downe’s Syndrome.  Go tot this website to see a precious child giving an art show: http://users.psln.coDecember 5 – Weston , Florida — You are cordially invited to a first of its kind art show! The work of Daniela Jahn Cano, a 24-year old artist with Down Syndrome, will be unveiled during a reception December 5 at the Art Institute of Weston. The exhibit, which will highlight more than 80 of her works, will be held at 2900 Glades Circle, Suite 1600 in Weston. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. Makes plans to stop by December 5 to say hello to this remarkable young artist. The exhibit is free. For more information on the Art Institute of Weston, or this exhibit, phone them at 954-659-9050 or online at www.artinstitute.info

Art is a way to make learning a joy for you and your children, and a way to teach core subjects that delight the minds of reluctant learners.

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