The Importance of Picture Books

We would be lying if we said that we have never been compelled to browse the pages of a book simply because its pictures were alluring. Picture books engage us in ways that books with only text usually don’t. They exert great influence on the reader for the obvious fact that they are visually delightful. Moreover, they have the power to convey emotions and ideas in an easy and relatable way for children beginning their reading journey.

Let’s find out the importance of reading picture books.

Advantages of Reading Picture Books
Picture books should not be confused with illustrated books. In picture books, the pictures convey the story and the text supports it. However, in illustrated books, the text is dominant and illustrations only help enhance the story.

Picture books are especially useful for young children who are taking their first steps into reading. Let’s look at some of the advantages that picture books offer:

Introduces children to the concept of reading
Even before children learn to make meaning of text, they learn by seeing objects and pictures. Picture books are a precursor to reading text. By reading these books, children get interested in stories and reading on the whole. They are more likely to read text-based books if they have been exposed to picture books early in their life.

Enhances comprehension skills
In picture books, since most of the story is conveyed through graphics, it leaves plenty to be deciphered. Children have to make sense of the plot, events, characters and mood through pictures. When an adult reads a picture book with a child, it helps prompt conversations about the story and makes children enjoy the process all the more.

Strengthens visual thinking skills
Picture books help children relate to what they observe and form mental connections between images and words. They learn to make meaning of the world around them. It is fascinating for young children to see their ever-expanding world captured in picture books.

Helps develop language skills
The language used in picture books is precise and poignant as fewer words convey more. The text is rich and engaging. Hence, it is a great tool to teach language to beginners.

Helps children become better listeners
Since picture books are largely a read-aloud experience, children learn to focus on what they hear. This prepares them for developing their listening skills later in life.

Helps children make connections in real life
The stories in picture books convey everyday feelings and challenges that a young child is likely to face. When a child reads about characters experiencing the same problems and emotions as him, he knows that he is not alone. Therefore, he becomes better equipped to deal with the situations in real life.

To help you pick the best picture books published in India for your child, we bring you some recommended ones in this category:

Days with Thathu (2-4 years)
Story: Geeta Dharmarajan
Illustrated: Nancy Raj
A sweet story about the warm and special bond that children and grandparents share. This story with simple words but a deep meaning is bound to take us back to the times when we spent magical moments with our grandparents. The black and white illustrations with only one colour in corners are striking.

Siri’s Smile (3-5 years)
Story: R Amarendran
Illustrated: Bhakti Pathak
A fetching story about a little girl who realizes that she is meant to smile and carries on doing it. The text is a perfect mix of prose and verse. The colourful illustrations are gorgeous.

Best Friends are Forever (4-6 years)
Story: Richa Jha
Illustrated: Gautam Banegal
The heartwarming story brings out the beautiful bond between two best friends and the sadness that they experience when they are about to get separated. It is a wonderful book to help young children deal with everyday emotions.

My Colourful Pencils (5-7 years)
Story: Massoumeh Ansarian
Illustrated: Fatemeh Fazel
Yet another great story to help young children tackle everyday issues; in this case that of boredom. A little girl realizes that her colour pencils are her best friends and she can stay occupied and happy with them. The illustrations are astonishing and one of the best available.

We believe that every child has a superhero hidden inside them. Let us celebrate Children’s Day celebrating the superhero in all of us.

The Right School for Your Special-Needs Child

Find a preschool that meets your child’s unique needs.

If your child has special needs, you probably have many questions about choosing a preschool. What programs are you eligible for? How do you assess which are right for your child? Here are the answers you need to help simplify your search:

What Are We Entitled To?
By law, any 3- to 5-year old with documented disabilities is entitled to free preschool special education and needed related services, like speech therapy. To determine eligibility, your preschooler must be evaluated by your school district. The free testing will verify whether your child has a “handicapping condition,” which can include vision or hearing impairments, developmental disorders such as Down syndrome, milder speech or motor delays.

Where Should I Start?

1. Check with disability organizations. They will help you learn about special-education resources in your area. If your child received early intervention services as an infant or toddler, ask your services coordinator to recommend preschool programs.

2. Contact your school district’s Department of Special Education. Arrange to have your preschooler evaluated. A team of experts — usually including a psychologist, social worker, and teacher — will conduct developmental testing and gather medical history and observations from you and professionals who’ve worked with your child.

3. Consult on your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It lists the services she requires, along with short- and long-term goals. The committee on preschool education will write the plan, with your input. Your child has the right to be educated in the “least restrictive” environment, meaning that, if possible, she should have opportunities to interact with children who are not disabled.

What Are My Options?
Programs vary according to school district, and may be full or half day. Here are some choices you might be given:

• A self-contained special-education preschool. Your child will be in a class comprised solely of special-needs kids. He’ll receive direct instruction from teachers trained in developmental delays. But there will be little opportunity for him to interact with typically developing peers, who can model skills and behavior.
• A special-education preschool that includes children without disabilities. Disabled children and low-income preschoolers from the Head Start program are often combined in one class. Your child gets individualized attention, plus the chance to interact with non-disabled peers.
• A traditional community preschool, with support services. Your child attends a mainstream community preschool, and your school district provides a special-education teacher to act as a consultant there. That teacher meets with the preschool staff regularly to modify the program to your child’s needs. Sometimes the district also provides free speech, occupational, or physical therapy at the preschool.
• Combination plans. If your school district offers you a half-day special-education class, consider supplementing it with another half-day program in a traditional community preschool.

What’s Right for Your Child?
If your primary goal is socialization, a community preschool may be fine. But if you want your child to master functional skills, the better choice might be a special-education preschool that works on those throughout the day. When weighing your options, remember to:
• Visit programs. Talk to the director and teachers, and explain your child’s challenges. Make sure the staff is willing to accommodate your preschooler.
• Ask about the curriculum. It should be play-based and developmentally appropriate.
• Discuss how IEP goals will be met. Will they be part of the class’s daily routine, or will your child be pulled out for support services?
• Consider class size and number of teachers. Small groups are best — ideally no more than 12 children, with at least two teachers. Also talk to the school district about an aide if your child needs one.
• Foster partnerships. The preschool staff should be open to your feedback and willing to work closely with your child’s therapists.
• Advocate for your child. If you feel the recommended program is wrong for your preschooler, negotiate before accepting what the school district offers. Ask professionals who have worked with your child to write letters on your behalf. Get an independent evaluation done, at your own expense, to support your position. Then meet with the committee on special education to calmly discuss other options and, hopefully, reach a compromise.

How to teach students with learning problems

Teaching students with learning problems

As teachers, we provide our students with the best of ourselves because we want them to succeed. We choose the most appropriate methods, the best tools and wrap up our courage to deliver our lessons effectively. We are concerned about their academic development and are enthusiastic when we spot any positive change in their behavioural and cognitive development. However, we get depressed when we are faced with students with learning problems who fail. We are lost and feel our efforts are useless. This happens because not all teachers have had the type of training that provide strategies to cope with these types of problems.
Teachers can do many things to help students with learning difficulties. They can improve their teaching methods, the assignment they want their students to do and the way they assess their work. Here are some strategies you can use to cope with students with learning problems.

Methods
1. Have students attention focused on you before you start the lesson.
2. Instead of teaching with sophisticated language, use simple language and speak slower.
3. Teach new vocabulary.
4. While discovery methods are better for normal learners, this creates high affective filter and may hinder slow learners. So since students with learning problems are not good problem solvers try to use explicit instruction.
5. Don’t use open-ended questions often. Ask precise questions needing particular answers and build on them to reach your teaching objectives.
6. Repeat, review and recycle on regular basis. This can be very helpful to foster long-term memory.
7. Use concrete materials and pictures.
8. Give one instruction at a time and don’t hesitate to have students tell you what is to be done and repeat given instruction to check full understanding.
9. Provide a checklist of work to be done.
10. Vary your teaching methods to meet all learning styles. Present the material orally, visually, kinesthetically, in group work and in individual work…
11. Write key points on the board, use colored chalk or markers
12. Present new information in the form of tables, charts, pictures…
13. When you present important points repeat them many times and say” this is important” to get their attention.
14. Provide examples of the work to be done.
15. Teach students how to ask for help.
16. Summarize key points at the end of the lesson. You may use graphs, tables, charts…

Assignment
1. Allow students to choose from different forms of assignment: an interview, a role play, a demonstration, pictures and drawings with descriptions, written text…
2. It is also helpful for students with learning problems that teachers provide them with controlled or guided tasks instead of free tasks.
3. Allow enough time for students to answer question or do tasks and exercises.
4. Vary the way students do their work: use whole class, small group and pairs.
5. Provide outlines and graph organizers to help students deal with assignment.
6. Reduce the amount of work to be done. Focus on quality instead of quantity.
7. Split large assignment into small parts.
8. Give students opportunity to ask for assistance when given a task.

Testing
1. Teach students study skills. Inform students with the teaching points that will be covered in the test.
2. Prepare students for the test. Provide a review sheet to be done as a homework to be corrected later in the class. While correcting the review sheet give students time to ask questions or review concepts.
3. Teach key elements in tests: “fill in the blanks”, “match the following”,” analyze”, “define”, “choose the right answer”…
4. Read the test to the students.
5. Make sure you test what was taught. Don’t ask from them things they don’t know yet or expect from them to come up with new information.
6. Vary the type of test questions: matching, true/false, multiple questions, short answers, essays…
7. Provide a quiet place for test assignment.
8. Show students how you will mark the assignment. Provide clear criteria of marking.
9. Provide feedback so that students learn from their mistakes and improve their learning.