Empowering special needs kids through play-based curriculum

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Empowering special needs kids through play-based curriculum

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Over the years we've had a number of children in our play-based curriculum who are either diagnosed or we suspect are on the autism spectrum or who are ADHD. These children… obviously, we have a parent educator in the classroom who is an expert in these things and can make recommendations to parents and do observations. As a teacher, I think a play-based curriculum is the perfect place for children, both of these kinds – an ADHD kid – they need to move around, they need a lot of variety, they need to move and that's exactly what a play-based curriculum allows children to do. It gives them a chance to pursue their own interests with their full body, with their full mind, the way these children learn best. As for kids on the spectrum, I really enjoy having those kids in class as well. So often the autism spectrum is combined with giftedness and, for example, I have one boy who became passionate on his own – he taught himself every element on the periodic table, he taught himself every country world. He could go around the globe and name you every country, he could name you every state in the US, including the capitals. This boy's passions are incredible in the classroom, because he helps me teach this to the other children. He gets them excited about these things through his exploration of maps and the solar system and all the other things that he's passionate about. I can't teach children that, he can teach children that. What he struggles with are social interactions and that's something I can teach to them. This helps the child who is on the spectrum become a leader and empower themselves and learn how to interact with those other people and help them all learn.

Watch Video: Empowering special needs kids through play-based curriculum by Tom Hobson, ...

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Tom Hobson

Co-Op Preschool Teacher

Tom is a preschool teacher, blogger, artist, and author. For the past 10 years, he’s worked for the Woodland Park Cooperative preschools, teaching two to five year olds in Seattle, Washington where he lives with his wife and daughter. His award-winning blog, “Teacher Tom,” has earned him an international following as a leading proponent of a progressive, play-based curriculum and the cooperative model of early childhood education, as well as a fierce advocate for public policies that support the whole child and the teaching of democratic values to even our youngest citizens. His blog, like his classroom, is a place of exploration of the physical, social, political, emotional, and even spiritual world. It’s a place of experimentation, where the adults learn every bit as much as the children.

Tom is the author of A Parent’s Guide To Seattle, a regular speaker on early childhood education, a board member of the Fremont Arts Council, and a founding member of the Superhuggers performance art ensemble.

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