In our All The Doo Dah Day face to face classes and our All The Doo Dah Day Take Away Lynda@Home Video Series, I have taught a large number of children who live with a disability such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and global developmental delay, are on the autism spectrum or have learning difficulties. Some experience anxiety and others have an ADHD diagnosis. All love our classes and without exception become engaged, even if initially they may have some challenges.
One of the key Practice Principles in The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework is Equity and Diversity. The Framework states, “all children have the capacity to succeed, regardless of their circumstances and abilities” and that “inclusion is the active response by early childhood professionals to understand all children’s and their families’ experiences and children’s individual capabilities”.
I have always prided myself on my ability to ensure each individual feels like they belong and feels secure in their own identity.
One of my favourite memories of working with children with a disability was when a little friend with cerebral palsy was sitting on his educator’s lap and when he saw his friends jump up to dance to Try Everything or “The Oh Oh Oh Song”, asked her to bring him his walker. He watched us carefully and as I instructed the children to spin around, he focussed super hard and manipulated his walker so he too could spin around! The smile on his face was so large and bright, such was his pride in conquering the spin, I fought back tears.
So what is the secret to inclusivity in our classes?
We have high expectations of every child
we sing complicated songs, we dance complex sequences. I celebrate the smallest improvements in balance, in confidence, in pronouncing a hard word and the children always rise to the challenges
We speak to the children as equals
I listen to them when they have things about their lives to share with me. I follow their interests so that my program (albeit a specialist program) remains emergent just like their daily program at kinder or childcare
We sing in many different languages
acknowledging many cultures in the process
We include sensory experiences
that involve a lot of touch and different sounds, be it using instruments such as shakers and drums or pulling lycra
We have many opportunities for free dance
which encourages self-expression and is not reliant on any specific ability
Our song choices are always modern and slightly quirky
appealing to children’s sense of imagination and fun. The lyrics are sometimes nonsense which removes the fear of making mistakes
We use our hands a lot
which enables children who are non-verbal to still join in and express themselves
We never force anyone to participate
Listening from the back of the room with sparkly, alert eyes is just as much a sign of engagement as sitting at the front of the mat. The child at the back of the room will often end up at the front of the mat in their own time and by the time they get there, they know all the words to every song!
If you have a child with a disability or with specific learning needs and have been struggling to find an online music and movement program that will engage them, why not give our Lynda@Home Video Series a try? Our program is respectful, inclusive and full of learning wrapped up in a big dose of sparkle.
Here is what a couple of very happy mothers of children with additional needs had to say about the Lynda@Home Video Series:
“Thank you for your amazing work. You get my ASD daughter to interact via your songs.”
“Thanks for going online. She has enjoyed it and has become so engaged in your class it is heart-warming to watch her. I have tried other online options but she does not engage! I am so grateful to you.”
#doodahwithLynda and watch your child soar xo