The art bench and special educational needs
Throughout our years of teaching we have taught children with a wide range of learning difficulties from hearing impaired to children on the autistic spectrum. We strongly believe that art activities can be a valuable learning experience for many children with special needs and all our workshops have been modified and adapted so that all children can have access and may participate in them. Our workshops can vary from a couple of hours to a full day or a course that runs over a few weeks and we supply all the materials’ and equipment.
The art bench thinking:
Make sure materials are accessible to all children, including children with special needs. Pay attention to where materials are stored and whether children with motor challenges can get to them.
Adapt art materials to the child’s ability. For example, instead of using scissors that a child may not be able to grasp very well, give children with fine motor challenges pre-cut pieces of paper. Consider giving children adaptive scissors that open easily, or allow the child to tear his or her own pieces of paper.
- Applaud the artistic efforts of all children. Saying “You worked on that painting for 20 minutes!” or “I bet you feel proud of what you created!” will help build self-confidence and creativity.
- Be creative. Activities that are pre-made or that have specific directions do not help children be creative and may be too challenging for those with certain special needs. We provide children with open-ended art materials that can be used in many ways and encourage all children to use their abilities to create their own art.
We guide children to take their own lead. We only give the help necessary. We encourage children to try to do it themselves first. Ask a child what they want to do, what materials they want to use and what kind of help they need.