How to Foster Curiosity in Students with Learning Disabilities
“The Mind That Opens to A New Idea Never Returns to Its Original Size”- Albert Einstein.
Learning is a lifelong process, but where there is no curiosity, it is difficult to learn new things or explore beyond the usual. If learning is to take place, curiosity must be fostered and preserved for not only academic excellence but a meaningful living.
Curiosity can be defined as a strong desire to learn or do something. Where there is curiosity, students can develop a unique interest in learning, exploring, and accomplishing assignments. Whereas curiosity is of different types, its influence on the brain is remarkable. One study revealed that curiosity makes our brains more receptive to learning and it also makes the entire process more enjoyable. It also reveals that intelligence may be important, but it isn’t enough to drive academic performance in all students.
As teachers, we desire to see our students perform better in class, but that may not easily be attained when dealing with students with learning disabilities. A learning disability can be defined as a situation where a child or a student finds it difficult to understand, digest, write, read the material or perform basic classroom tasks.
Children or students with learning disabilities require specialized help in class and outside of school. They normally find it hard to learn, understand and memorize concepts. They always feel like they are dragging on and their self-confidence tends to lower down in case they don’t receive the necessary support they need.
Some of the commonest learning disabilities in students include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory processing disorder, language processing disorder, visual perceptual/visual motor deficit, and nonverbal learning disabilities. Learning difficulties also differ in severity. Still, some students may have one while others may have two or more learning disabilities.
Note: Slow learning may not always indicate a learning disability. Some students may start as slow learners but pick up with time.
If you are handling students with learning disabilities, it may be difficult to foster curiosity in them, however, it’s not impossible. Introducing strategies that promote curiosity can help them discover an interest in learning and will motivate them to take on challenges. Want to foster curiosity in the classroom?
5 Ways to Foster Curiosity in Students with Learning Disabilities
Use Visuals to Capture Their Imagination
Teaching is naturally a challenging profession, but it becomes a puzzle when dealing with students with learning disabilities. Unlike students without such, those with learning disorders may even find it difficult to learn or decipher seemingly simple things. With that, a teacher must introduce approaches that arouse students’ curiosity.
Visuals are experimental teaching techniques that have been part of the education culture for decades. Science also shows that the human brain remembers images more than text. However, when it comes to students with learning disabilities, it may not just be mere visuals. As a teacher, you must be selective about the kinds of visual aids you use. Colorful visuals whether mere objects or story books with captivating visuals can help students imagine things better. It will also help them differentiate things and remember them easily.
Introduce STEM Activities
STEM activities are currently part of every school curriculum and program around the world. Generally, they are field specific i.e science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These have shown tremendous results in teaching critical thinking and encouraging curiosity in all types of learners.
If you’re a teacher teaching science subjects, disability-inclusive STEM education is a perfect consideration in your classroom. Stem-focused activities here have a substantial positive effect on a student’s cognitive development and function. Making stem activities part of the classroom activities will help your students learn how to set SMART Goals and believe that they are attainable. Smart goals examples like reading a book every month can help students with learning disabilities perform better.
Stem activities like popsicle stick builders, sticky-note matching numbers, and microscopic activities can arouse curiosity in students with learning disabilities. Another wonderful activity is a scavenger hunt. All these activities are easy, fun, and explorative in nature. They will help your students experiment, engage and increase memorization. Teaching students with disabilities requires patience and although there may not be a positive effect, you shouldn’t give up.
Let Them Question the Logic of Things
Teaching and learning are two-way activities. The input and participation of a student also matter. Although it may be difficult to cause impulsive student participation, it is essential for a teacher to cultivate grounds for it to happen. For example when teaching a new concept, first inquire about the student’s perspective on the same.
This will help them become curious and think about the concept deeply. Also, encourage students to ask questions. Consider the fact that students with learning disabilities may grab things at a different pace. So, connect with them on an individual level and ask them questions and let them answer. Also, use a cordial approach when rectifying mistakes or when giving feedback. A negative approach can have a negative effect on a student’s learning abilities.
Blend Story Telling In the Curriculum
Stories cultivate enthusiasm and curiosity and besides that, they make learning more enjoyable and fun. They captivate the mind and act as roots for initiative and learning from experiences. They also tend to refresh and break the monotony within a classroom. Choose stories with a great beginning and those where you don’t need to explain something again and again. Whether introducing a new topic or revisiting an old one, bring it forward in the form of a story.
Also, use picture books, story kits, and visual notes for the students to easily refer to what you mean. Students can also refer to the story kits when talking or writing about a particular topic. Thanks to technology, there are also several learning apps students can use at home for personalized learning. Apps like FunEasyLearn are excellent in establishing linguistic skills, especially for students with speaking difficulties. With all this, your students won’t find it complicated to learn or digest concepts.
Today, the world is evolving at a great speed and technology is taking the center point in every field. When it comes to the education arena, technology has led to many developments that are altering the face of the sphere. Technology in education has proven how new developments like e-learning, gamification learning, VR (Virtual reality), and AI have a substantial impact on learning and student engagement at all levels.
Statistics indicate that 67% of students found gamified learning more motivating and engaging. Although there are no sufficient studies about game-based learning on students with learning disabilities, educational games during interactions can have a positive impact on learning and outcomes in students with learning disabilities. Gamified learning also provides immersive learning experiences which lead to analytical reasoning skills, collaboration, and problem-solving skills in learners with disabilities.
The Bottom Line
There is no definite approach to fostering curiosity in students with learning disabilities since they may have different learning disorders. If a teacher deals with students with dyscalculia, he or she must use different techniques from those dealing with students with language processing disorders. So, it is always essential to understand the type of students and the learning disabilities they display.
Depending on what you teach and the type of learning disabilities, the curiosity-fostering approaches mentioned here will help you transform your students and will also lead to better classroom performance.