“Our starter-kit has the items most frequently recommended on our hotline calls,” explains Taunya Couch, inclusion services developer.
The kit contains several items designed to help children adjust to classroom routines while helping them express their needs in a productive way.
- Magnetic Picture Schedule – All children benefit from the use of magnetic picture schedules: helping children develop a sense of time and sequence. But for some children, magnetic picture schedules offer additional support by making abstract time concepts more concrete, providing structure and predictability, breaking down the sequential steps of a larger task, and as a communication aide.
- Fidget toys, therapy putty – Therapy putty and fidgets support children who need additional help focusing, self-regulating, and safely expressing their emotions. These sensory aids offer children tactile input that supports their ability to focus and remain calm.
- Books about children of all abilities – These books include stories about children with autism, visual impairments, as well as a book celebrating differences, and can be used as a resource for answering a child’s honest questions about why another child may look or act differently. Reading these books as a class, asking questions and discussing the story help create a classroom culture that’s respectful of all children’s abilities.
- Communication cards – When worn on a teacher’s (or older student’s) wrist, these cards, which include symbols for common needs like “stop,” “bathroom,” and “gentle hands,” help support English language development and reinforce spoken language.
- Break cards – Break cards are a visual aid children can use to request time outside of the classroom or in a quiet area: removing themselves from overwhelming circumstances.
- Sensory seat – Sensory seats help promote concentration by providing children with a space in which to make subtle movements. The seat can be used on the floor or in a chair, flipped to the smooth or textured side, depending on the child’s preference.
According to Valerie Keller, a KinderCare center director in Dublin, Ohio, the Inclusion Services starter kit is a wonderful resource for her teachers.
“We have a little boy who does use some of these tools at his developmental preschool,” she said. “One afternoon [at her center] was a little rough for him as he is typically not here all day (he had no developmental preschool class today). Once we began using the items in the kit his face lit up. His afternoon was amazing. We were just so happy – as were his parents – that we had something that works for the teacher, the child, and the family.”
With the help of the Inclusion Services team and the start kit, Valerie and her teachers were able to help a little boy adjust to change and reassure his parents that KU teachers will make every effort to meet each child’s unique needs.