Connecting Kids with Learning Disabilities to the Arts

May 2, 2018

 

 

 

(I'm very pleased to make an introduction of my guest blogger, Lilian Brooks.  This content is very interesting, I'm inviting you, my reader, to enjoy it.  Those of you, who are concerned about this field, I hope this blog post would help you and direct you.)

 

School is a tough place for children with learning disabilities.  When children struggle to learn in traditional classroom settings, they’re often left feeling deficient and inferior to their peers.  But the truth is, kids with learning disabilities can be exceptionally bright. However, tapping that brilliance requires a different approach.


Children with difficulties in language, numbers, and attention rarely perform well in classrooms where they’re expected to sit still, read, and listen. Because the arts incorporate different learning styles, including kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learning, it’s one setting where children with learning differences can apply their strengths.  Living in Dialogue explains it this way: “The arts can level the playing field, because children with difficulties in academic subjects might excel at drawing, painting, acting or dancing and singing.”


This leveling of the playing field builds confidence and self-esteem in children with learning disabilities and improves aptitude in the classroom.  Through the arts, kids with learning differences can discover the modes of learning that resonate with them and apply that knowledge during academic lessons to facilitate learning and retention.


Getting kids with learning disabilities engaged in the arts requires more than sitting them down with a paintbrush and a watercolor set.  Teachers and parents should provide direct instruction and break processes down into small steps.  Where possible, provide visual examples and modeling rather than relying on written or verbal instruction alone.  Allow children to move around; kids with ADD/ADHD may benefit from moving their bodies while learning.


The type of art matters, too. While some children find their passion in drawing and painting, others are drawn to singing, dancing, or acting.  The best way to discover which art forms capture a child’s attention is to experiment.  Here are four types of art to try with learning - disabled children.


Visual Arts
The impulsivity of children with ADD/ADHD may drive teachers crazy in the classroom, but as Scientific American explains, that same trait can be a gift in the visual arts. While other pupils stick to imitating provided examples, children with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD are more likely to act on the creative twists that pop into their mind.  That leads to creative, unique works of art that build a child’s confidence. After modeling techniques and providing visual examples, teachers can let students’ creativity flow.


Textile Arts
For strong kinesthetic learners, textile arts and sewing may be a good fit.  Textile arts are more than crafts and homemaking; they’re valuable tools for teaching geometry and promoting problem solving and complex thinking. Instructors should start with the basics of using sewing machines before moving onto sewing techniques and introductory sewing projects.

 

Music
Musical training has long been linked to improved executive function and verbal ability.  Because these are areas where children with learning disabilities tend to struggle, music education is a wonderful complement to classroom learning.  However, children with learning disabilities may be unable to read music. Using repetition to teach by ear and color to highlight concepts and indicate phrase changes compensates for reading difficulties.


Theater
For children who love to move, consider theater.  Between community theater and school theater programs, there are many opportunities for children to get involved in acting.  Acting out scripts is an excellent way to improve a child’s reading fluency, comprehension, and ability to collaborate with others.


When it comes to teaching children with learning disabilities, it’s important to focus on strengths, not weaknesses.  By allowing for a diversity of learning styles and creative expression, the arts do just that.  Give your learning-disabled child opportunities to explore the arts and you may unleash a wellspring of attention, curiosity, and passion that you didn’t know existed.

 

Image via Unsplash

 

 

 

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