Friday, June 8, 2001
Preschoolers learn about disabiliies through 'same' and 'different'
Michaela Hardimon and Jennifer Jones, teachers in the Carlisle Preschool program, gave an in-depth report on the preschool program on the campus of the Carlisle Public School at the school committee meeting, Tuesday, May 22.
School committee members heard the report on the unit on disabilities developed by Hardimon and Jones. One aspect of the unit introduces disabilities through children's literature. Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers, I Have a Sister My Sister is Deaf by Jeanne Peterson and Someone Special Just Like You by Tricia Brown are examples of some books read to the children.
With simple, familiar objects the children are introduced to the concepts of same and different. They are encouraged to describe why a given object is the same as or is different from another object. From this concrete point of reference the children are asked to stand beside one another in pairs and describe differences and sameness between them. On other levels a more abstract concept of same and different can be introduced and developed by having the children form lists, a chart and a class book.
"What do we all do that is the same? What do we all feel that is the same? How do we all look the same? What do we all have that is different? And what is different about the way each of us looks?" Ultimately each child is able to take home a book to share with his or her family recording, "We Are All Alike and We Are All Different." The teachers said as the year progresses and the children know each other better they are able to understand more and more abstract and complex concepts.
Director of Special Studies Dr. Linda Stapp said the program, although only in its third year, feels very settled and as if it has been happening for a long time. It presently has registered seventeen children ages 3-5. There were only two openings last year and 15 children are on the wait list. Chair of the CSC Paul Morrison said that the unit "...was an impressive way of dealing with a very sensitive topic." CSC member David Dockterman said that the teachers Hardimon and Jones should feel very proud of the program and Superintendent Fox-Melanson agreed, "We are so very fortunate."
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