Peer mentoring in preschool benefits all

March 10, 2008 Kyron 1 Comment

Children with, without special needs paired by program, to benefit of both

Last week I wrote about how I thought that peer mentoring programs could benefit children by diminishing the possibility of bullying or harassment by other peers. This article in the Daily Press, a Virginia paper, highlights a program in York County utilizing this very concept. The brilliant thing about it is that it starts at the best possible time – pre-school.

It’s interesting however to note that the thought process that seems to have been used in putting this program into place is that this program gives the special needs child the ability to mimic their “typical” peer and therefore gain valuable skill development – both social and developmental. Certainly this was always a legitimate learning tool for Katherine.

As a young child in daycare, Katherine was placed in with children who were chronologically in the same age range as she was and we saw two things happen. One was that Katherine mimicked her peers in the classroom. The second is that because Katherine wanted to do what others in her classroom were doing she worked to figure out how to accomplish the task that much harder. She might not have done it exactly like her peers but she sure did find her own personal workaround.

The perfect example is crawling. Katherine would see her peers crawling around the room but because of physical weakness in her shoulder she couldn’t do exactly what she saw others doing. Her drive to be as mobile as her peers however had her work that much harder to find a work around. We called it butt scooting. It was this push up with one arm and her legs that she used to propel her butt forward and move. Brilliant. Would she have figured out mobility without the peer interaction? Possibly, probably. Was it a help?  In my untrained opinion – it was an essential piece of the learning process.

Of course exposing typical children to our special kids is just as beneficial to them as it is to our children. As pointed out in the article – “You learn something better if you teach it yourself”. These children are in essence – mini teachers. They help teach and they benefit because the lesson is that much better learned having not only learned it but interpreted that learning into teaching the same concept.

Better yet, when it’s possible for children to be in this setting the mini teachers are also learning – learning at a subliminal level in many ways. By this daily exposure to children with a variety of disabilities, typical children learn about people being different and yet, not all that different. What the children in Katherine’s daycare learned was that while Katherine might learn differently and might approach things differently than they did physically, she liked pizza at lunch as much as they did and looked forward to seeing the Barney video at rest time just like they did.

This is the beginning of understanding and breaking down prejudice that comes from fear which always springs from ignorance. Seems only right that ignorance be eradicated by education and that education starts with our young in school. Win-Win situations are always best and this seems to fit that definition to a T.

Related posts:

  1. Would Peer Mentors Deter Bullying?
Categories : Articles, Education, News

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Evangelineec says:

    well done, brother

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