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Traditional games adopted to teach children with special needs

Taking a unique initiative, Madras Dyslexia Association has adopted traditional games in their remedial techniques for teaching children with special needs.

The Association Special Educators claim to have witnessed significant improvements among children with the use of traditional games, which are vital in developing the pre-skills for all children. The improvements include in areas such as the children’s overall focus, fine motor skills from playing some of these games.

On 30 August, in Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had brought to focus an important pedagogical tool, namely playing with toys.

Speaking about this initiative, Mr. D. Chandrasekhar, President, Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA) said: “We at MDA are constantly in the process of inventing, reinventing, upgrading our remedial techniques in order to bring about the slightest difference possible in the child’s development. After a long day of school, children with dyslexia come for remedial classes, and then they attend therapy classes, after which they’re tutored at home and they finish their homework and whatever little time left, they’d like to spend it in front of the screen or playing against it.”

“Therefore, at Ananya (our fulltime remedial centre) when we make our Individualised Education Plan (IEP), we try and add in a pinch of traditional games in order to tweak their pre-skills, which are vital for the academic development. When you’re working with these traditional games, we realized that they were naturally multi-modal and multi-sensory and usually cater to more than one skill. These games can be easily adapted to suit the strengths and the needs of each child,’’ Dr Chandrasekhar said.

Traditional games have a way of seamlessly teaching physical growth and development, social-emotional development, sensory-motor development, communication skills, problem-solving, concept building skills, understanding and processing skills, executive functions, perceptual readiness for learning, listening, reading and writing besides several life skills, including social skills.

How does playing traditional games benefit children- especially children with Specific Learning Disability (SLD)?

The skills developed/built through the play of traditional games are very important life skills as well as academic skills that cannot be ignored.

Some of the practices and games and their benefits include:

The ritual bath, which helps develop gravity control (vestibular control), body awareness (proprioception) and midline crossing.

The ‘Thooli’ (baby hammock), which helps develop gravity control (vestibular control), body awareness (proprioception).

‘Pallanguzhi’ (mancala), which helps develop numeracy skills, fine motor and graphomotor skills, midline crossing, attention and focus develop.

‘Paandi’ (hopscotch), which helps develop balance, gravity control (vestibular control), proprioception, tactile stimulation, spatial awareness, focus and attention

‘Goli,’ which helps develop proprioceptive stimulation, vestibular control, fine motor control, spatial awareness, visual discrimination and tracking.

‘Bambaram’ (top), which helps develop proprioception, bilateral coordination, muscle tone improvement, spatial orientation, fine motor control and attention and focus.

Kite flying, which helps develop large motor movement, muscle tone, and spatial orientation.

Five stones, which helps develop attention, focus, sequential memory, multi-tasking, active working memory, eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, visual motor association, vestibular control and proprioceptive stimulation.

Further, Mr. Chandrasekhar said that India is a country really rich in culture and the cultural aspects of India are not confined to art, music and architecture but also extends to play. These games do not require any expensive props and everybody could play them regardless of age or gender. They cater to specific developmental aspects needed for children, keeping in mind the geographical and cultural backdrop.

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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