Who Are They? Professionals at Your Service

As an educator who taught in different schools located in three countries with various cultural backgrounds, I was subjected to different types of children including those who were known as the high flyers to those who struggled with certain difficulties.  We all know that the classroom is composed of different capacities and capabilities, and I have always said and still believe that a professional teacher is the one who works with students who need guidance and support. That teacher has no credit if her main focus is only on those who are already soaring highly in class – even though they should also be regularly credited for their good work (but this idea is beyond the scope of this particular article).

teaching

Ideally speaking, an educator would have to address all the children in his/her classroom by utilizing several teaching methods as well as preparing exercises that target children with different needs. Indeed, an educator helps all of the students to achieve better no matter what that child’s rank in class is or the poor behaviour they might demonstrate.

There are, however, some challenging cases where the teacher alone cannot reach his/her aims. Each student comes from a unique background and has been exposed to many situations that shape their personality and ability. There are children who are delayed due to some physical special needs while others may suffer from psychological and emotional struggles which might hinder their learning.

We as teachers can perceive some significant difficulties, from hearing or vision problems, to hyper activity in a child, but it is mainly the family’s pediatrician who can help out in giving a particular analysis and transfer the child to a specialized therapist who will identify the precise diagnosis.

From my experience in this field, I realised that there are still many parents who are not aware of the professional help they could seek which might be due to the fact that their job titles are not self-explanatory. That is why, I thought of briefly presenting and explaining the professions that might aid in the success of our youngsters, and therefore describe the work that they do.

Occupational Therapist:

Occupational therapy helps children who have any physical difficulty, sensory integration (how the child processes information using his senses tactile, hearing, vision and vestibular), or cognitive difficulty. Such therapists work on helping children who struggle in establishing balance, coordination, handwriting, and general gross and fine motor skills, like brushing the teeth or putting on their shoes. An OT helps a child to grow within the norm expected for his age, and help children with special needs to become as independent as possible. They also cover most learning disabilities involving motor and physical aspects, attention deficits, and hyperactivity affecting posture and body control. They can work with children on the autistic spectrum as well.

ot

Psychomotor Therapists:

These therapists work on supporting an individual’s personal development. Psychomotor specialists study the body and its expressivity and work on prevention, education, re-education, and rehabilitation. They work on the gross and fine motor skills as well as sensory integration, but they address the chid as a whole. They take into consideration and implement underlying neurological involvements of learning new motor skills. Finally, they always link the child’s psyche to his body functions. For example, a child who is not able to write on the line might have space orientation issues underlying handwriting, so they address it directly.

Psychologists:

Before explaining what psychologists do, it is important to understand the difference between psychology and psychiatry. “Both professionals treat people with problems that vary wildly by degree and type, from mild anxiety to schizophrenia.” (http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/psychology-vs-psychiatry-which-is-better)

The difference however, is that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor and can prescribe medication for the patient, whereas a psychologist works more with the theory and helps the patient reach tranquillity and calmness through talk.

pscho

Educational Psychologist:

Educational psychologists mainly assess academic skills and achievements. They run IQ and cognitive assessments, and they can lay an educational plan. Their role is to detect academic difficulties and diagnose underlying issues such as Attention deficits, intellectual challenges, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia etc.

Clinical Psychologist:

These psychologists basically assess and treat children and adults with emotional and behavioural issues. They can also run IQ and other cognitive evaluations. Sometimes they are called counsellors or their job is described as counselling. They usually diagnose and treat cases such as divorce related issues, jealousy, depression, eating disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, psychosis, manias, OCDs etc.

Speech-Language Therapist:

A speech therapist helps children who struggle with speech disorders, like articulation, fluency, resonance or voice, and feeding disorders.  They assess language and communication disorders and treat them. They also detect and treat learning disabilities where they work closely with other therapists and teachers. A child or adult may consult a speech therapist for different concerns such as;

language comprehension – language expression – articulation – communication skills in general and pragmatic language (highly affected with children on the autistic spectrum) –  speech fluency (stuttering) –  reading and writing

They also work on the underlying required skills needed for reading and writing such as attention and memory, and phonology.

Finally, they work on enhancing problems related to voice disorders, feeding and swallowing disorders, and hearing impairments affecting language.

speech
© unknown
Developmental Optometry:

This refers to assessing a child’s vision in terms of whether it is developing at an age appropriate level. Optometrists are more apt to use lenses, prisms and Vision Therapy to enhance and improve visual function. These interventions often improve children’s academic and other abilities.

For a more detailed idea on optometry check out the link below:

www.covd.org

Applied Behaviour Assessment or ABA:

Known as Behaviour Modification works on implementing interventions to improve significant behaviours.  It is a new and much sought method where the work is basically on children with autism.  ABA therapists work in a very conditioned manner to inhibit inappropriate behaviours and replace them with more acceptable ones as they incorporate academic objectives while doing so.

therapy

Some children have mild problems that can be easily treated but others might have more difficult and lifelong issues. As a teacher, I have experienced students with special needs who have flourished after treatment and others who were left behind secluded as there was no support coming from the parents. No matter what the case is, we as parents have a duty towards our children.

Having a child with special needs is challenging and demanding in many aspects but parents who live in denial won’t be aiding their child to overcome those difficulties.  In our eastern culture, many parents find that it is unthinkable to have a youngster who has difficulties or certain delays. They assume that by rejecting the problem, they can solve it. However, it is just exactly the opposite! In fact, they are excluding this child from his/her right to learn, and they are wasting a chance for him/her to succeed.

therapy1

I thought of including a few addresses in UAE. In case you know of someone who needs it, or you think it is helpful for you, the list is as follows:

In Abu Dhabi

– The American Centre for psychiatry and Neurology

www.americancenteruae.com

– Taleem Centre

024441100

taleemcentre.com/about.html

– kidzfirst in Khalifah City 

– Stars for Special Abilities

024462048

www.starzuae.com

-Dots and Links

In Dubai:

-Child Early Intervention Medical Centre, (CEIMC)

Al Razi Building, Block B,  Suite 2010 Dubai Health Care City P.O. Box 505122, Tel:+971 4 4233667 Fax:+971 4 4298474 info@childeimc.com

http://www.childeimc.com/asc.html

-Dubai Community Health Centre

www.dubaicommunityhealthcentre.org

Tel: 04 395 3939

-British Institute for Learning and Development BILD

Tel  +971-4-3945907

-American Hospital

Tel: 971 4 309 6450

-KidsFIRST Medical Centre,

Tel: +971 4 348 5437

-Rashed Pediatric Center

-Bright Sparks

-For cochlear implants, therapies, and follow ups related Dr. Muaz Tarabishi and his department of pediatric ENT at the Dubai American Hospital

 

A big thank you for all those who helped in providing me with the needed information to realize this article:

Mrs. M. Hamed (Elementary School Teacher)

Mrs. M. Marji (Speech Therapist)

Mrs. N. Mounzer (Child’s Rights)

Pictures from Pinterest and Google

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Children on Board

During this time of the year, schools across Europe and many French and British schools here in UAE take a short break of ten days which is more known as the Winter Break. Many families decide to travel and profit from this break where they can take their children to experience skiing and other winter activities. Some might have a 3 hour flight and others might have much more.

I wanted to take the advantage and share my ideas with you dear readers on methods that we can use to entertain our children on the plane.

I do not know how many of you agree, but I do not really find airplanes are apt for children, especially toddlers.  Having a toddler on the plane is kind of tricky as they get easily bored and would like to move all the time. One of the most annoying things is the usage of toilets, especially if your toddler has recently removed his nappy.

Many aircrafts provide children with a bag of many fun items, but when you are a frequent flyer the children get bored of having the same package every time. Of course, there is always the availability of operating the screen to watch a movie or play games, yet toddlers cannot be involved in such activities. The main duty then therefore falls on the parent’s shoulders.

Before taking the plane, pack an extra bag for entertainment where you can put the following items:

Play dough:

If the airport security allows it, play dough is a super activity that can keep your children busy for hours. A friend of mine makes her own play dough and I loved the idea. By doing so, you make sure your child is not consuming any toxic material.

Check the following link for the recipe:

http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe.html

 

Bubble wrap:

Having a small piece of bubble wrap is excellent. Not only it keeps those cute hands busy, but it also helps in developing their fine motor skills.

bubble wrap

Snacks:

Before departing to the airport, have a few snacks under hand. A good example and practical ideas is to include baby carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and some Cheerio’s. Recently, I have found some organic maple frosted flakes and they are really tasty with no additional sugars.

frosted flakes

Reading Books:

Reading carries children into a world of dreams and imagination. This activity is not constricted to any specific place, it can be done at any time of the day, and suits all ages.

Activity books and colorings:

There are plenty of activity books where children and toddlers can make use of. Having one helps in many situations and keeps the child busy.

Game boards travel kits:

Snakes and ladders, Four in a Row, Tic Tack Toe, foam puzzles, etcetera are all examples of amazing games where everybody can participate in.

Mr. Potato Head:

In addition to the fact that Mr. Potato Head indulges a child for a long period of time, it also provides children with the ability to develop their gross and fine motor skills and enhance creativity by play pretend,

If you do not want to purchase the toy itself, there are plenty of printables which you can prepare before your flight.

Check this link for more details on the benefits of Mr. Potato.

http://mamaot.com/2013/06/17/30-developmentalbenefits-of-playing-with-potato-head/

121217-Potato-Head

Pipe Cleaners:

These are great to occupy your child with for some time. The ideas that can be created are infinite. Depending on your child age, you can add straws and beads to form different shapes.

Pipe-Cleaner-Letters

Gel Window Clings:

I have once seen a super mom occupying her daughter with those clings and I loved the idea. I have not used it before, but I am sure I will be soon, especially by the time the twins reach such a stage.

gelclings

Travelling with children and especially toddlers can be simplified and become enjoyable once you keep them occupied. There will be a moment in time where as parents you might not even be able to eat, let alone have time for a movie. As parents, we should keep reminding ourselves how precious our time is with them, since soon enough our little toddlers grow and develop into independent adults. 
Whatever your plans are for this short break, remember to enjoy them.

stages of children

pictures from Pinterest and personal

Enhancing Creativity In Children

With our children’s conditioned schedules and the less time we spend together, we find many of them backing away and isolating themselves in front of screens, mesmerized by video games, and are unable to liberate themselves from those devices.

With our lifestyle, we are encouraging them into becoming victimized robots that are abused by technology. Not that I am against it, but I am definitely against the addiction it creates and the magical attraction it forces on our children as it sucks them out of their creativity and social skills.

What makes things worse is that as a parent who enjoys technology and consumes its advantages, I know that it will be very challenging to make my children aware of the disadvantages and have them make good use of its benefits. I cannot hold them back from it, but I also cannot accept defeat and have them surrender to its seductive nature.

What made me write about how children are losing essential skills due to many factors we are living, is when my boys had their friends over for a play date in the afternoon. Being the type of mom who enjoys playing with her children, I organized a few fun games for us to play all together. To my great surprise, they were not interested in whatever creative conducts I asked them to do, and they could not believe their ears when I finally announced that they can enjoy some time on the PlayStation.  The reality hit me like a tornado, and I could see that my children, like those of their generation, are in the process of losing a very essential element which is creativity.

“We often think about creativity as making something, but in fact the root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’.” http://tscpl.org/art/why-is-creativity-important-in-everyday-life.

Having our children grow into beings who are able to embrace life and live it vibrantly is a dream every parent seeks. But how can we help this generation find a milieu between the swiftly scary transformation and the natural, calm, and creative humanitarian nature? These are some of the ideas that I apply and others that I am seeking to implement in order to help my children reach the far horizon and attain a wild creativity.

FREE PLAY:

It is important not to give children too many assembled toys as they help in limiting a child’s creativity. For example, nowadays it is very difficult to find toy telephones where a toddler can use his index finger and dial the numbers by a turning knob. This, for example, reduces a child’s exposure to develop his fine motor skills. As parents, we think that the more toys we offer our children, the happier they will be, yet it is exactly the opposite. Why would I need to buy my boy a pair of binoculars when we can create one out of toilet paper rolls? The market is providing us with ready-made toys which are fantastically attractive, but they are also stealing our capabilities of inventing things on our own. The only problem we have is that we need to have enough time for us to accomplish these things. One good way will be to replace an after school activity with a free play session where our children can create their own games and use their creativity to make it enjoyable for them.

telephone toys

PLAY WITH YOUR CHILD:

Doing some creative play broadens children’s imagination. Here are a few ideas of short but resourceful games which you can do at any time of the day. Have your kids sit or stand in a circle and do the following:

  1. What is it?: Hold a pen and tell them, “You may think this is a pen, but it’s not…. This is my tooth brush!” and act as if you are brushing your teeth. Hand your pen to your child and have him think of another idea.
  2. Watch the Ball: This game is similar to the first one but it focuses more on the sense of touch. The mom pretends to be holding a huge ball, suddenly she says, “OH my, I have a ball of fire.” She throws the imaginary ball to one of the children. The child who catches the ball has to give it a new status and throw it to another person, and so the game continues until they don’t want to play anymore.
  3. Story in an envelope: Place a few toys in a huge envelope. If you have more than one child, you can prepare one for each. Have each child orally create a story based on the items he finds in the envelope.

playing mom

DRESS UP PLAY:

Providing our kids with old clothes where you have them create their own costumes is fun and creative. On the other hand, buying those assembled beautiful costumes from shops limits a child’s vision. Moreover, in a very short time they get easily bored with them, and they start nagging for another new set. As parents, we wonder why they are never satisfied, and struggle to find ways to make them appreciate and value the many blessings they already have.

EXPLORE NATURE:

Playing with mud and dirt, sitting on the grass watching the ants hurry about fetching for food, observing animal’s behaviour, and running along with other children all of those actions are crucial in expanding a child’s imagination and creativity. I do not know how practical and convenient it is for us to have our children enjoy outdoor playing in Abu Dhabi, but I think we should try to compensate for that during the summer vacation where we can benefit from better weather conditions abroad.

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO DO ART WORK:

Kids need art so they can explore different textures, paint, and material. Having a creative centre at home where they can choose what they need to do, develops their imagination and nourishes it. Always give a detailed encouragement on what you liked the most in your child’s artwork. For example, “I mostly love the details you made in drawing the car.” This will help in developing your child’s self-esteem and make them confident of their abilities.

One of the activities that I am planning on doing with my boys is the following:

We will read Henri Matisse’s biography and look at some of his art work masterpieces for inspiration. The material you will be needing are scissors, glue sticks, cardboard, fabric and other type of product that your children would fancy. Then, I will have them create their own collage.

henri matisse

HAVE A FEW AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES:

Like video games, after school activities have become a tough and an obligatory act that everybody does. It is true that there are many advantages to enrol our children in after school activities, but we need to make sure that we do not overdo it. Again we are limiting their imagination as we are narrowing them into activities that might not be of their interest in the first place. It is better the child does an activity that he enjoys instead of doing many which he dislikes. Try to talk to your child and find what interests him before forcing him into participating in activities of your choice.

LISTEN TO MUSIC:

I think we all agree that music and singing are essential in helping children express themselves, unwind stress, and foster their imagination. As a matter of fact, music should form a daily part of our lives.

explore sound

BOOKS:

Reading takes children to different worlds of imagination, creativity, and inspiration. The more the child is exposed to reading, the wider the imagination and the more they gain knowledge. Giving the children some time to read before going to bed is essential. This activity can start as early as possible, and the earlier the child relates to books the better the chances are to nurture creativity.

reading child

REDUCE TV TIME:

I know that it is impossible to eliminate the exposure to the screen. However, I find it important to stress the fact that watching television is harmful, especially for little children. It is obvious that it stops them from doing something active, and worse the flood of images coming from the screen blocks children’s inner pictures and limits their fantasy and imagination. Furthermore, it makes children get easily bored in life as the images coming from the screen are way too fast from what they see in reality. Knowing all of this, as a mom, I would argue with my children every time I feel that they have exceeded the time of watching television.

 

In conclusion, creativity helps in developing a child’s self-esteem, critical thinking, and curiosity about the world in general and life in specific. It is a capacity that we are born with, and it is also a skill we can attain if given the chance. The more productively active we are, the more worthy we feel.  Therefore, it is never too late to start building our children’s creativity.

jean piaget creativity

Organic Chocolate Spread Muffins

The name of February comes from the Latin word februum which means purification as it was a time of redemption a very long time ago.
As this month softly settles in, people dwell into their emotions with ecstasy as they look for new ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some plan on special romantic outings, others try to find unique gifts, while some prefer baking some peculiar desserts.
I came across a chocolate spread muffin recipe and thought it fits perfectly well for those who would like to surprise their loved ones with a nourishing treat during this month.
Being the meticulous mom that I am, I adjusted the ingredients to make it a healthy recipe for my family. It is light, not too sweet, and easy to make. Hope it will appeal to your taste.

Ingredients:

1 cup of Organic Biona chocolate spread
2 medium eggs
10 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons of milk or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2015/02/img_9565.jpg

Method:

Preheat the oven
Line the baking cups in the muffin tray
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs along with the vanilla until fluffy
Mix the Biona chocolate spread, the milk, the baking powder, and the flour until combined

2015/02/img_9566.jpg

Spoon the batter into the lines baking cups
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of each muffin

2015/02/img_9567-1.jpg

Bake for a maximum of 15 minutes
Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before transferring them into a plate
Sprinkle some icing sugar on top
Serve and enjoy!

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