Saturday, February 11, 2012

Special Needs

It always makes me proud when my students show maturity beyond their age. Often, it is hard for young children to understand how to treat someone who is different.

One of the 2nd grade classes at my school has a boy who has a severe case of ADHD. His attention span is very short, and he is very impatient. However, he gets along with others very well, and I have really enjoyed getting to know him. I don't know how much the other 2nd graders understand about ADHD, but they all are aware that he is very impatient and gets frustrated if something takes a long time.

This week, my K-2 classes are taking a break from my regular curriculum to do a coloring contest for a "Cash for College" contest. They have to color a piggy bank, and then answer some questions about saving money. My ADHD student (I'll call him Johnny) came in late because he had been spending time with his high school mentor.

"Is this a race?" he asked excitedly.

"No, it's a contest. A race means that whoever does it the fastest wins. A contest means that whoever does it the best wins," I said.

"Oh," Johnny said, and began scribbling wildly on his piggy bank, not even stopping to draw a side view of a president on the coin like many of the other students did.

"Done!" he announced shortly, and I told him where to put his picture. A few minutes later, I came back to his table, and Jonnny was hanging his head and wouldn't look at me.

"Is something the matter?" I asked, but he shook his head, still looking at the floor.

"He thinks he might not win the contest," one of the other students explained. Apparently Johnny had noticed the skill level of the other students at his table, who were carefully designing their piggy banks with stars or flowers.

"Johnny, would you like to start over? If you messed up on your  first one, I have a few extras," I told him.

He was very happy to start over, and finally made eye contact with me. As he began working on his second picture, his whole table was assisting him.

"Color slowly so you stay inside the lines," one little girl encouraged. "Yeah, like that. That's really good!"

"And don't forget to color his ears," another student at the table reminded Johnny.

Finally, Johnny was done. "Wow, I bet Johnny is going to win the whole contest," the little girl at his table said with a smile.

Johnny was very proud to go put his picture on the shelf, and when the 2nd grade teacher came to pick up the class, he was the first to tell her all about the contest. I was very proud of the support and encouragement Johnny received from his classmates.

1 comment:

  1. It's such a great feeling when you can watch your students do what's right.

    I had a sophomore boy last year in my digital photography class who was legally blind with only 2% of his vision left. He insisted on taking photography, so they let him. At first I was really worried, but during in-class projects, almost every other student went out of their way to help him- they would help adjust his camera settings, give him tips on where to stand while shooting, help him edit his work- all without me asking. Some days it actually made me tear up!