Online classes keep students with special needs engaged in times of pandemic | Kolkata News | #specialneeds | #kids

Kolkata: With almost six months gone since educational institutes were closed due to the pandemic, students with special needs have been adapting to different modes of learning. Saloni Solanki, a student with special needs, now looks forward to her Zoom classes every day, because it is there where she gets to meet her friends and teachers. Another student, Akshay Kejriwal, too waits for his online activity classes.
“Saloni suffers from Down syndrome. I was initially apprehensive about the online classes, but I figured out that she was managing quite well and has become used to operating the machine. She just needs some help with craft classes,” said Saloni’s mother Chetna. She added that these online classes have been quite helpful in keeping Saloni occupied.
“Without anything to do, she would have become hyper,” she said. Akshay’s mother Sangeeta said, “There is one teacher, sometimes more, for every three to four kids. So individual care is being taken. There are also sufficient breaks between classes so the kids don’t feel tired.”
Minu Budhia, founder and psychotherapist of ICanFlyy, an institute for kids with special needs, said going virtual was a challenge for both kids and teachers, but most have adapted to the new normal. “We initially had twice-a-week, 40-minute classes. The frequency has now increased. One major difficulty, however, is that some parents tend to interfere with the child’s therapy. Internet fluctuations and a limited number of smartphones are other problems that sometimes affect us,” she said.
Founder-director of Pradip Centre for Autism Management, Mallika Banerjee, said her institute has been conducting one-on-one virtual classes since the beginning. “The time slots are arranged according to convenience of parents and kids so the kids do not have to sit for a long time in front of smartphones or laptops. We have also asked parents to make video calls among their kids’ friends once or twice a week so they feel better,” Banerjee said.
Sanghita Kabasi, whose daughter Ankita is a student at Banerjee’s institute, said, “These online classes have been keeping the kids engaged. Also, parents are getting involved with the kids’ education, which, I think, is beneficial for both.”

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