Learning is one of the major development activities responsible for the development of the mind and helps in the acquiring of knowledge. There are different challenges that face learning especially to children of the age of 7 to 15 which is the stage responsible for laying the learning bases of a child. One of the many challenges or disorders is Downs syndrome. This is a set of mental and physical traits within a person that are caused by a gene problem which occurs before birth. The disorders vary from one person to the other where one could experience hardships in learning like in our case, fluency, pronunciation, accuracy in reading could be the main which are referred to as intellectual disabilities (Browder, D.M., 2015). Other disorders include different physical formations such as short neck or a flat face.
Learning among the children with this disorder can be hard to achieve due to the intellectual disabilities and trying to find an appropriate approach to help in fluent reading, pronunciation, and accuracy in reading. The provided learning programs within different schools do not completely address such cases. Over the past few years, the number of children born with the downs syndrome keeps growing, and those facing intellectual disabilities as well keep increasing. Very few programs have been tailor-made for these cases hence the learning ability of the child is highly affected. This has been seen in the different case and also a number of research have covered this issue but with less success. The main purpose of this work is to address the learning challenges faced by the children in relation to pronunciations, fluent reading as well as accurate reading for these children. Very few children with the disability get the chance to learn well and this depends on a number of factors such as the ability of the child's parent to afford private teaching for their child with the disability or the ability to afford to educate the child in the few private schools which offer advanced learning for such children with these disabilities.
There are different teaching strategies or pedagogical approaches that can be used to aid in the learning of the children in this age. Specific teaching strategies need to be applied when teaching a child suffering from drowns syndrome in case. Research over the last ten years indicates the cognitive delay effect on the children's learning abilities in the Down's syndrome. There are different teaching strategies that can be applied by the teachers, but for this case, the best teaching practice is the graphic organizer strategy. This strategy involves a simple and effective tool to help the student brainstorm as well as organize their thoughts and ideas in a visual presentation. The teaching strategy helps the learner organize information in the graphic manner which makes it so easy for them to understand the concept being taught. In our case learners suffering from drowns syndrome happen to learn much better via looking at diagrams or images hence this idea can be applied by the teachers so as to help the students not only learn but apply the skill in reading fluently associating different words, letters with different graphical ideas so as to enable the brain retaining abilities of these children. My study mainly focuses on this teaching strategy and how it can be applied for the learning purposes for the children suffering from the disorder. The main advantage behind this teaching strategy is that it can be used for any lesson, this includes structure writing, planning, brainstorming, problem-solving lessons among another lesson hence makes it possible to achieve the intended purpose for the paper.
Different research has been conducted trying to identify the right teaching approach for children with intellectual disorder especially downs syndrome. According to () learning among the children suffering from the downs syndrome may be hard due to the slow cognitive abilities experienced by the children. The process of teaching them and letting the information sink in is normally slow since there retaining the capability of their brain is slow as compared to that of an average or normal healthy child. From the research, it shows that children suffering from downs syndrome tend to understand more from looking at maps, different images as well as graphs as compared to reading. The research was conducted with a number of children exposed to the different teaching strategies, and their performances were recorded at the end of the study. Their scores differed depending on the teaching strategy with the performance of the children taught under graphic organizer strategy performing way better as compared to the other strategies. Another looked at is the research by (Dexter, D.D. and Hughes, C.A., 2011) which focuses on how to apply graphic organizer teaching strategy to children trying to learn reading fluency and accurately. From the research, the teaching strategy was applied to different students on the different subject with the aim of trying to find out how good was the graphic organizer strategy good in teaching a reading class for the children aged 7 to 15. From the research, a few limitations were found in relation to the strategy although these would not restrain the use of the strategy. The main limitation that was found during reading class was lack of the right graphic representation of some things. This led to a little confusion for the child since they lacked the appropriate mental picture to relate to while learning. The problems solution that was discussed was the teacher involvement which involved the wide range of understanding from the teacher on the different graphics content so as to reduce these instances during reading (Dexter, D.D. and Hughes, C.A., 2011). Another limitation was the diverse meaning of different things, for example, graphic meanings of different things differed from place to place or cultures hence this would have affected the meaning of different concepts for the learners.
Graphic organizer teaching approach is an effective teaching approach for the children affected by the downs syndrome although it has a few limitations associated with the application of the approach. The first limitation was the vast number of words involved in reading as well as pronunciations and accurate reading. The strategy needed to have a wide range of graphic elements for use in the class. This was a hard thing to come up with, but with time the teacher keeps a database of the different things to aid in the learning process of the children. The other limitation was to relate the different images with the words and the words with each other so as to facilitate accurate reading of the student (Bunge, M., Muhlhauser, I. and Steckelberg, A., 2010). It was expected of the children to associate the names with the different graphic things then, later on, they can try to pronounce the names as given to them and relate each word with the next word. Sometimes it was hard for the children to relate the words with each other but in some point, the children related the pictures with each other instead of the words associated with the images making the teaching strategy way complicated. According to (Manoli, P. and Papadopoulou, M., 2012), this was experienced from the participants in the research but clearly stated that with time the participants managed to smoothly relate the words and the reading with the images and became way easy for the learners.
After the application of this strategy, different measures had to be put in place so as to assess the effectiveness of the strategy. One of the main assessment was continuous random group discussions with the children and recording their continues progress with class work as per the new teaching approach applied by the teachers. With this it was possible to know whether the mechanism was a success or it was not working. Report from the assessment would indicate the different words the children have learned over the past duration they have been learning with the strategy. In case the words do not keep increasing as the assessments are offered, this indicates little success with the strategy (Praveen, S.D. and Rajan, P., 2013). Also reading assessments are given to the children where they are expected to try and read them out loud and name the different things they picture in their minds so as to associate with the reading. This will help the other children relate to these cases as well.
So as to effectively implement the teaching approach, it is much productive to learn each child's upbringing and try to identify the different things the child associates with. For the children affected by the downs syndrome it becomes hard to address new areas every day but learning the child's environment and upbringing it becomes easier for the teacher to use different graphic items that the child interacts with more frequently and this facilitates the child's learning speed since they are already familiar with the teacher's graphic representations.
This strategy is very involving for the children where they have to try and relate the different things they are shown to what is written by the teacher. For example, when telling a small story and the teacher approaches this with the picture version of the story. The children become so interested in trying to understand what is happening within the picture and with the help of the teacher, the children share what they see by the use of different words that the teacher tries to teach them. This helps the children despite the downs syndrome, learn the new words and the brain retain these new words while relating them to the different interesting images shown to them by the teachers (Knight, V.F et al., 2013). This worked well with most of the children since it required less thinking by the children but more of relating what was happening in the pictures as well as what the teacher was talking about. Apart from the picture a physical practical would have worked better although this would have required more involvement. A good example was a practical conducted by the teacher of a person eating. The teacher dramatized these actions, and none of the children forgot this practice (Fajardo, I., et al., 2014). They could use it in different sentences as well as read it out loud and accurately.
After a look at the teaching approach to apply to the children suffering from downs syndrome it gives a satisfactory feeling to see the children being able to look at different things relate to different graphic concept they have covered in class and read fluently, the Approach has helped the children interact with the world more in a learning manner where most of the things they come across they address in a much more academic approach (Dexter, D.D., Park, Y.J. and Hughes, C.A., 2011). This includes the small toys with the writings on them, the children can read these writing in relation to even the toys. They can also clearly look at different events even on television relate what they have learnt with these skills and give a fluent story line of what is happening. The research has clearly exposed me to the impact the different teaching strategies have on the learners. It is possible to state that the learning patterns of a learner dictate the teaching strategies. Different disorders are unpredictable but our coping mechanism to these disorders make the affected individuals feel part of the large community. For the case at hand the children with downs syndrome happen to be affected by the disorder before their birth hence this clearly shows the need of addressing how to help them.
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