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SN child in dance class - Helpful Hints?

557 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Kabes
I teach dance (ballet, tap, gymnastics) to children. In my 3-4 yr old class (with 4 children right now, will grow to 6-8), one of the little girls has a deformed hand. Her arm ends with very small fingers that don't bend, and no palm.

I want to assure that all the kids in class have a fun, educational time, accomodating her needs when necessary, while not drawing undue attention to her "differentness".

When we join hands to make a circle, I make sure that either I or my assistant hold this child's hand, so that there is never a situation where another child expresses shyness about holding her hand.

And I switched from using a stick song (where we tap sticks together) that had us doing things like tapping end-to-end and hammering one with the other, to a song that just has us copy the rhythms that the "woodpecker" in the song taps out. She can prop one stick against her chest and tap with the other hand, but the whole end-to-end and hammering stuff was impossible, at least the first week of class. I may also try substituting other rhythm instruments (tamborine, shakers) for the sticks. Wait, shakers would require grasping the handle. Maybe just one shaker per child.

Some of the other little girls were noticing her hand, and one said something about it in class. I think I said something like "S's hand is different from yours, and we all have fun in dance class together." (Boy that sounds lame now!) Is there something else I can say? Yes, she's a bit different and NO it doesn't matter.

This little girl is so sweet and a little shy, and I just really want to do my best for her, and for the other children in class.

Any suggestions?

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Can you ask the girl's mother for some guidance? By age 3/4, most of us have some stock responses for situations like this. I don't have any specific advice since my children's special needs are developmental rather than physical, but I also know that my "action plan" is different from my friend's whose son has the same types of needs. In similar situations, I prefer to be the one to talk to his peers about the difficulties he has, but she prefers to let the teacher do it. Maybe if you ask the mother how she would like you to handle the situation, she can also offer you tips for making the class fun for her daughter and the others.

Hopefully, others will chime in soon with some more specific suggestions.

good for you, a-m for your awesome attitude and eagerness to accomodate.
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i think you are doing great! there was a little girl in Bible School last year who had Down Syndrome & was blind in one eye. None of the kids ever asked about her & she was included in every activity, it was neat to see.

if the kids DO make comments, be matter of fact, what you said was quite good imo, & brava to you for adjusting your activities to help her participate fully.

hope others come along with specific advice!
My niece is almost 9 and has a similiar deformity to the one you described. Asking the mother is a great idea. One of our 'stock responses' is "Yes, and your hair is brown and Jill's hair is blond everyone is special just the way they are." Usually this take care of it. The child who makes the comment feels special & the child being spoken about feels special too. Before class starts maybe you could ask one of the other girls if they would hold ___'s special hand during circle time. Thank you for the thought you're putting into this.
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