Children with physical handicaps can posses many strengths and abilities. Most times, with a few modifications, they can participate in the same activities as their non-disabled classmates. While non-disabled preschool children can run or climb to explore their surroundings, a physically handicapped preschooler may explore with support from a wheelchair, walker, leg braces, stroller, or even by scooting or crawling, if possible.
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Being outdoors is a necessity for any young child to help them release their energy. The child with a physical handicap also needs to be included in outdoor activities. To help him feel included, provide predetermined games for the children to play, making sure to makes accommodations for him as needed. A game of "hot potato" can be played as it requires no running and can be played sitting down. Children use upper body energy as they toss a ball/bean bag to each other in a circle, while waiting for the signal to stop. Anyone left holding the "potato" can simply move back one step from the circle or can keep their hands clasped together on top of their legs.
Current standards in education are requiring higher expectations of all children despite age or ability. Since learning to write the alphabet is a fundamental component in preschool, the activity can be easily adapted and modified with the help of an assistive technology device, such as speech recognition software. This will allow the child who has minimal to no function of her hands to be included in the learning activities without necessarily writing or typing. They can see what they are saying and learn right along with their peers. The use of an eye-gaze communication board is also helpful in allowing the child with a physical handicap to communicate her intent if she is unable to point or turn her head.
Incorporate Occupational Therapy
Children with physical handicaps typically receive some form of occupational therapy to help develop their muscle tone and motor skills. Incorporating techniques used in occupational therapy sessions into preschool activities is essential in accommodating the child. If a child needs help developing his fine-motor skills, a "birthday cake" activity can help strengthen and reinforce the skill. The activity requires using Play-Doh or putty, pipe cleaners, straws, and sequins. Most of this is already found in a preschool classroom and can be easily incorporated into a class lesson. Using the doh or putty, the child creates a birthday cake by rolling, pushing, and patting it. Then, he inserts the straws into the doh/putty to resemble candles on the cake. Using the sequins, he decorates the cake as much or as little as he wants. When the birthday song is sung and the "candles" are blown, he has to remove the straws, reinforcing the fine motor skill of grasping the straw with his thumb and forefinger. If there is any doh/putty stuck in the straw, he can clean it out using the pipe cleaners.
Dancing and Singing Activities
Preschool activities are frequently geared toward learning through song and dance. The music can help liven up the mood in the classroom and allows for the children to express their emotions without being embarrassed. For a child in a wheelchair, a peer can pair up with her and help her navigate through a line dance. The teacher can also accommodate by having all the students sit in their chairs and move their arms and heads to the sound of the music without moving their legs. This can be a powerful teaching tool in demonstrating empathy for others.
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