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  • Sarina Shirazee

Different learning profiles & inclusive education: An occupational therapy perspective


Every child has a different learning profile. ⠀⠀

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Some kids learn better with background noise, while others learn better in silence.⠀⠀

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Some kids learn better whilst sitting still, while others learn better whilst moving.⠀⠀

Some kids learn better by seeing information, while other kids learn better by hearing information. ⠀

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Some kids learn better while fidgeting with something in their hands, while others learn better if their hands are still.⠀⠀

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How do we accommodate each child’s needs in a classroom with 30 kids? It's really hard. Occupational therapists can help with this. There are ways - too many to list for each individual learning profile here - so here's one example.⠀⠀

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Let's take a child who needs to move in order to learn. I appreciate how much it helps to have everyone sitting still in class. However, expecting a child to sit still is not inclusive. It discriminates against those whose brains are wired to learn best with movement. It excludes them from learning, because it asks them to learn in a way that doesn't work for them.⠀⠀

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If a child needs to move to learn, can we find a way to let them do this?⠀

Can we get them to sit on the perimeter of the group if they're on the mat, where they can move with minimal distraction to others?⠀

Can we get them a fit ball, wobble stool or wobble cushion to sit on?⠀

Can we let them work standing up or lying down?⠀

Can we give them breaks throughout the day to move around?⠀

Can we give them more “jobs” to do like sharpening pencils or taking a note to the front office?⠀

Can we give them something to fidget with in their hands?⠀

I think it's important to check our assumptions, and ask questions like, why is it that we need them to sit still?


"Inclusion is important for many reasons. It implements current thinking about child development; supports children’s rights; implements the legal standards for early childhood education and care; and is good professional practice. Inclusion fosters diversity and overcomes any barriers that might exist to ensure that every child experiences quality education and care" - Early Childhood Australia.


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