Using Effective Teaching Strategies to Promote Participation

Simply providing equipment and adaptations to children is not sufficient to help them learn. Teachers, family members, therapists, and other adults need to help children learn how to use the equipment and adaptations appropriately to promote their participation. This can be done by first telling and showing a child how to use equipment or materials and by giving children opportunities throughout the day to practice.  Then, once a child understands how to use the device or materials and has had a chance to practice, the next goal would be to help the child participate more fully in activities or with other children.

One way to teach a child how to use equipment or materials is for the adult to use the AT device and model or show how to perform the task. For example, in a type of modeling called aided language stimulation, a teacher may use a child’s communication board to say, “I want more milk” in order to show the child how to communicate through the device.  Then once the child learns to use the communication board, the child can then use it to participate in other social and learning contexts with the teacher’s support.

Another way to teach the child to use AT is through explicit instruction where the adult teaches the child to use AT adaptations or equipment.  For example, a teacher could say to the child, “Use the blue board to find the feeling word you want to say”. Next, the adult can encourage and support the child to use the blue board to communicate with other children in the class. These teaching strategies not only help children learn to use the AT adaptations and equipment, but also helps them to participate more effectively.

View the following video clips to see examples of adults teaching children to use their AT devices and of a child using AT to participate in a classroom activity. In Video 5.7, the adult models the use of a child’s communication board within the context of eating breakfast. In Video 5.8, the adult works with a child during morning sign-in as he uses voice output buttons to communicate what letters would like to write.

Video 5.7: Communicating at breakfast

An adult uses a child’s communication board to show him how to ask for more cereal at breakfast (running time: 46 sec.).

Video 5.8: Morning sign-in with Ethan and Amanda

A teacher works with a child during morning sign-in as he uses voice output buttons to communicate what letters would like to write (running time 2 min. 25 sec.).