Every child’s development is unique and the cognitive, social, verbal and physical differences may be profound in a special education classroom. How do teachers manage to respond to such a variety of students? EduPlay provides a solution. It is designed with seven research-based adaptions and modifications which are crucial for working with young children with special needs: material modification, activity modification, using the child’s preferences, environmental support, peer support, invisible support and adult support.
Using the EduPlay system, a teacher can customize content and select different activities for individual students or groups of students based on their specific needs. In addition, the teacher can modify the difficulty, speed and mode of operation of the activities. In this way, the teacher is able to design a learning environment which supports and enhances each child’s individual development and their attainment of critical early childhood skills and knowledge.
EduPlay balances guided activities with activities that allow for free exploration. In addition to the computer courseware, many hands-on didactic materials are provided for visual and tactile stimulation. These materials give children an opportunity to make connections between the concrete world and the abstract computer environment. The didactic items can be used as an introduction to the software to prepare the children for their computer experiences, and they can also be used afterwards, to reinforce and deepen the educational experience through manipulation, exploration and play.
Increasing numbers of young children with special needs are being included and taught in our schools and classrooms. When a child is identified as having a disability, professionals and parents must collaborate to create goals for that child. Whether the disability is physical, cognitive, or social-emotional, EduPlay works within the scope of the classroom to help the student reach their developmental goals.
EduPlay is most often taught in small groups and the facilitator can use various teaching strategies to help encourage a resistant child to participate. For example, facilitators can simplify directions, add visual cues, make use of the concrete/didactic materials provided, sequence learning tasks from easy to difficult, provide many repeated opportunities to practice skills, offer incentives and reinforcements, give verbal prompts and utilize direct physical assistance.
In addition to specific teaching strategies, EduPlay has integrated their product with seven research-based types of modifications and adaptations specifically designed for working with young children with special needs. (Wolery & Wilburs 1994; Hemmeter et al. 2001; Sandall, Schwartz, & Joseph 2001; Sandall et al. 2002).