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Promoting engagement among learners since early childhood is crucial to the further development of the behaviors that will allow the learner to acquire, process, and use information in a manner as efficient and expeditious as possible. The issue is especially important when it comes to managing the learning process of children with special needs since it allows helping the child become an eager learner. As a result, the learners are likely to overcome the problems associated with their specific background faster and acquire the relevant information successfully. Interaction with caregivers should be viewed as the primary tool for encouraging learners to engage in the process of information acquisition
Studies show that there is a direct link between children’s engagement and their further progress in knowledge and skills acquisition (Wankel & Blessinger, 2013). Particularly, as long as students are invested in the academic process, they memorize the essential information and develop the necessary skills much faster than they would otherwise. The identified approach is especially important for children with special needs, who may feel discouraged when having to face the obstacles that other children do not have to handle (Shoulders & Scott, 2016).
For example, ESL learners may be disengaged due to the lack of understanding of the information provided by the teacher. Appealing to the concepts and ideas that are associated with ESL students’ culture and, therefore, are relatable to the target audience, is likely to help in promoting engagement among learners and helping them get excited about the process of gaining new knowledge and skills (Moreira et al., 2015).
Furthermore, the connection between students’ engagement and the process of cognitive development can be viewed from the social perspective. As stressed above, the target learners may fail due to the feeling of alienation that they experience in the classroom. The focus on mediation and the creation of a learning community, which can be established at the early education stage, may become the foil for the motivation levels among students with special needs to remain stable: “Teachers need to consider more socially based and mediated approaches that support the learning activities they have planned, especially when children with ASD are part of the learning community” (Peters & Forlin, 2013, p. 44). Despite the fact that the study in question researches the means of tending to the needs of students with ASD specifically, its implications are applicable to the setting, including students with any special needs.
Finally, there is a direct correlation between the engagement of the child and the number of interactions that the student has with their parents. The outcomes of the observations point to the fact that the students whose parents spend the smallest amount of time communicating and interacting with their children contribute to their development to the least degree. Therefore, there is a need to design the strategies and tools that will help promote communication and interactions between children and their parents or guardians. As an intervention for the identified scenario, one should consider teaching the essentials of responsive parenting to the parents and guardians.
Engagement in Young Children
Detecting engagement in young children is comparatively easy since they are prone to expressing genuine emotions and, therefore, do not mask their boredom. Among the typical characteristics of an engaged early learner, one should mention the quality, such as active listening. Furthermore, a motivated student does not get easily distracted. Asking relevant questions should also be viewed as the primary signs of learners’ engagement (Fengfeng & Abras, 2013).
By increasing engagement rates among children with special needs at the earliest stages of their cognitive development, teachers create the premises for the further success of the target audiences’ learning process. Furthermore, it is essential to make sure that the students interact with their parents or guardians. This includes not only academic activities but also knowledge acquisition, in general. Therefore, it is crucial that young learners with special needs should receive the appropriate treatment. Particularly, teachers must develop a framework that will be used to promote engagement among young learners with special needs successfully.
Fengfeng, K., & Abras, T. (2013). Games for engaged learning of middle school children with special learning needs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 225–242.
Moreira, P. A. S., Bilimória, H., Pedrosa, C., Pires, M. D. F., Cepa, M. D. J.,… & Serra, N. (2015). Engagement with School in Students with Special Educational Needs. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 15(3), 361-375.
Peters, B., & Forlin, C. (2013). Children with ASD as part of the learning community in three international schools in Hong Kong: Practical implications for class practice. Asian Journal of Inclusive Education, 1(2), 31-47.
Shoulders, T. L., & Scott, M. k. (2016). Rural secondary educators’ perceptions of their efficacy in the inclusive classroom. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 35(1), 23-30.
Wankel, L. A., & Blessinger, P. B. (2013). Increasing student engagement and retention using multimedia technologies: Video annotation, multimedia applications, videoconferencing and transmedia storytelling (part F). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.