Some Happenings at Breakthru

At Breakthru, we view academic studies as highly important but when it comes to dealing with children with special needs, we feel that learning other skills can sometimes be more beneficial to their growth. Children are encouraged to participate in game time daily as we feel that this opens them up to be more confident and open and harnesses their creativity skills as they would probably not get the chance to do it outside of the centre. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be showcasing some of the activities we do on a daily basis here at Breakthru. To start with, our first highlight is on rhythm and dance!

Dancing

Contemporary and Modern Dance

These will be for the high functioning teenagers. Teenagers are taught a short and simple choreography and they are then asked to learn and practice it. This encourages them to use their memory skills in remembering something that they enjoy doing in addition to their academic studies. The repetitive motions of choreography work also allow these children to refine their motor skills, which is beneficial to children who have problems with movement. As for the younger kids, they will be able to participate in weekly drama classes where they get to act, sing, dance and harness their talents in a fun and playful way under the careful eyes of our drama teacher. This also ties in with music play which is also done at the centre. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to music tend to have higher academic achievements.

Tap Dance

This is mainly done for the children to appreciate the rhythm involved. Children will be taught the same choreography over a period of time until they’re very comfortable in following the steps. These are mainly for the children who are unable to express themselves with words but are more comfortable with their body movements. This allows them to have fun and at the same time have their own personal expressions as they go along with the dance!

Stay tuned for the next installation of activities here at Breakthru!

 

A Toast To All Of You!

Last week, we had our monthly toastmasters meeting at BEST. What is a toastmaster? In literal terms, it sounds like someone who is perhaps excellent at making toast for your daily breakfasts, which to be fair is an excellent skill to have! However, in this case, the definition of a toastmaster would be someone who is perhaps presenting a speech, delivering an impromptu talk or proposing a toast to a party. Toastmaster’s International is a non-profit organization that meets up worldwide in order to help members of the public improve on their public speaking skills and leadership qualities. It also helps to promote confidence and allows an open platform for everyone to stand on and make their voices heard.

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At BEST, we believe that every individual child has a voice just waiting to be heard. These kids have something to say but probably lack the confidence and the skills to stand up and say it. At least once a month, our Junior Toastmasters’ Meetings allow these children are given the opportunity to stand up in front of all their friends and deliver a speech made entirely by them. They’re also given the chance to hold responsibilities of being the time keeper as well as the ahh-counter (someone who counts repetitive words in a speech and the number of times “errrs” and “hmms” are used, which are unnecessary and distracting in public speeches). These responsibilities give these children a sense of importance that they are able to handle being in charge as well as ensure they are listening at all times to everyone in the room. Toastmasters’ meetings are run by the mother of one of our students who has generously spared time out of her busy schedule in order to help these children find their voice and their momentum.

Toastmasters’ meetings usually begin by the introduction of a quick topic of the day. As we had just finished our cooking competition that morning, naturally, the topic of the day will be what was still fresh in everyone’s mind: Cooking Competition! Children are then given a short period of time to quickly prepare their first speech and five volunteers were picked out of the group.  Once all the volunteers had delivered their speeches, feedback was given by the facilitator. Constructive criticism, points that were good and guidance on how to improve on grammatical errors and timing were given to each speaker and the speakers took it all in with an open mind.

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The second session was an impromptu story telling where everyone was once again asked to prepare a quick story of their choice. In this session, students are able to showcase their creativity skills in coming up with stories that captivate an audience on the spot. One of our students did not even get a speech prepared but still had the confidence to stand in front of an audience and delivered a great, impromptu story, making it up as he went along. The meeting ended with an official timing of how long their speeches were and how many repetitions were in each of their speeches.

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At the end of it, we all learned that in order for a good speech to be given, a speaker does need to have a quick preparation so that more focus can be given to the audience and eye contact should be maintained throughout the speech. It was encouraging when a student took the time to prepare a speech and for those who did not manage to do it, it gave them someone to look up to and perhaps push them in the right direction for future meetings.

 

How to help a dyslexic child to improve in math/s – part 2

Many dyslexic children also have problems comprehending the vocabulary and symbols used in mathematics. It is also a common problem that these children will be confused with math symbols that look similar. Likewise, they often reverse numbers, which lead to errors when performing simple calculations and arithmetic.

math1

Despite facing the above mentioned difficulties, a dyslexic child could further improve in math/s if he/she begins to feel more confidence about it and enjoys the process of learning math/s. Below are some strategies parents and teachers could apply:

Set up a specific time to do math together

Sit down with the child to help him with math homework/assignment.

Build a connection between math and his/her daily living

Using examples of math from bills and home repair projects can show the child the relevant role that math plays in a grown-up world.

 

Learning math/s in fun ways using

Snacks i.e. candies, m&ms can be used to add or subtract parts.

Games that involve math concepts e.g Board games, computer/online games.

Online Tutoring lessons that combine fun math games with personalized instruction so that the child get to have fun and lots of extra help with math.

Individualized Independent activity sheet

Prepare appropriate individualized independent activity sheet for the child that allows him to succeed at every attempt of working on the math questions.

Help the child to discover his/her own error

Help the child to discover any errors by saying, “Why don’t you check that one again?”

The math children use in school is just a formal application of all kinds of daily experiences. A dyslexic child who struggles with math at school doesn’t need constant drilling of specific problem. He/She needs varied experiences that allow him/her to work with numbers in a hands-on and fun ways. When the math/s concepts have been woven into his/her perspective, he/she’ll be better equipped to handle the formal arithmetic encounters in the classroom and his daily living.

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How to help a dyslexic child to improve in math/s – Part 1

It has been estimated that around 90% of dyslexic children have problems in some areas of math/s, and most of the time they will need extra help especially when new concepts of math/s are introduced.

To help a dyslexic child improve in his math/s, we must first look into the reasons for this problem.

One of the difficulties a dyslexic child experience is with sequencing.

It is important to help the child learn his/her basic 1-100 systematically. Providing a hands-on experience by using a variety of physical objects and real scenarios (e.g. counting guests) to demonstrate numbers visually will enhance the child’s interest in math/s. The following steps are recommended:

block-counting

  1. Lay out 100 blocks, with 10 blocks on each line, practice counting from 1 to 100 e.g. 1,2,..99, 100
  2. Lay out 100 blocks in group of tens, practice counting from 10 to 100 e.g. 10, 20..90,100.
  3. Arrange the blocks in group of fives, practice counting from 5 to 100 e.g. 5,10, ..95, 100.
  4. Count backwards, starting from 10 down to 0 e.g. 10, 9, ..0, and working up to 100 down to 0.e.g. 100, 99, …2,1,0 (practice daily until he/she can count backward fluently)

It’s important first to build a solid foundation on the child’s basic math/s and then build other concepts on top of it. Always remember to keep reviewing and never assume that the child knows everything.

Below was my observation of a 8 years old child that I helped to breakthrough with her sequencing concept. I hope this will encourage us to KEEP reviewing with our children until they breakthrough. It is definite a slow but sure process.

Observation on Counting Backwards

CY was able to count to 100 with some guidance especially where there is a change of tens. After few rounds of counting verbally while putting the blocks, CY was able to count 1-100 quite fluently.

Counting backward was a great struggle. She got stuck many times. We did a few rounds of you say and i say – ‘tell me the number before’. When she began to feel more confidence, we tried saying the backward numbers again, but this time I encouraged her to remove the block one at a time as she said the number.

I noticed that she still mix up some numbers. But she is now more confidence and and say the number more fluently.

After a few sessions repeating the above counting, I noticed CY was able to complete her counting backwards activity easily.

 

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