If Mary Poppins Taught Hebrew School, She Would Have…

by Fran Pearlman

One of the greatest challenges of the congregational school is our setting (and of course our timing). We often share our classrooms with others; most of who are not the same age as our students. For the child with special needs the setting and the classroom dynamics can be either a deterrent or an advantage to learning.

Here are some suggestions that may offer some help. There is no one solution for every special needs students just as no two people learn in the same way. Sometimes this may require trial and error and other times the best solution may be the first alternative.

1. Always have an extra desk and chair in your room for those students whose learning style requires movement

2. Make sure the temperature of the room is conducive for learning

3. Colored chalk helps student differentiate between different concepts. This can be duplicated by the use of colored pencils on an individual basis

4. An overhead projector where half of the page is covered up and the page is revealed incrementally helps those who have some visual discrimination challenges.

5. Clay or pipe cleaners take advantage of a student’s kinesthetic learning style and are an asset for learning Hebrew.

6. A teacher holding up a 3×5 colored index cards can be a sign that a student needs to reflect on his/ her behavior and that it may be time for a break (this is wonderful if there is a student accompanied by a shadow).

7. Make sure each class period has time for individual work that allows you, the teacher, to help an individual student organize his/her work, backpack or assignment.

8. Always wait a full 3-5 seconds before calling on a student to answer a question (the average wait time is only .03 seconds!!) This gives all students an equal opportunity, even those with auditory processing difficulty.