'Textbook' helps special needs kids do everyday tasks

SINGAPORE - Clipping toenails or putting on a plaster might seem like simple tasks. For those with special needs, however, they can be a real challenge.

That is why a group of 18 trainee teachers have put together a “textbook”, which spells out how to complete each activity. Every step has a matching photograph to show how it is done.

The “book” – which consists of individual sheets – covers 142 tasks across seven categories such as using appliances, personal hygiene and basic life skills.

It was completed in November with the help of the Metta School for children with mild intellectual disability or autism.

Mr Tok Wei Yuan, one of the group’s two leaders, said: “Many of them learn through sight so they need pictures to follow.”

The 28-year-old, who teaches at Fajar Secondary School, added: “We got positive feedback from Metta School, and we’re glad that the school can also continue using our resources.”

Mr Tok is one of 17,200 student teachers who have completed similar projects through an initiative called Group Endeavours in Service Learning. As part of their training at the National Institute of Education, they carry out tasks that help the community.

Working in groups of 16 to 20, the student teachers and their partner organisations identify needs in areas such as health, social welfare and literacy.

About 100 partners have come on board, and more than 850 projects have been completed since the initiative was introduced in 2004. Another group aimed to raise awareness of how monkeys and humans can coexist. Led by 24-year-old Samantha Tan, it developed a children’s learning package which included an educational booklet and posters.

Last November, the group took 20 West Grove Primary pupils to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

“The children really enjoyed those few hours... they got to see and experience nature for themselves,” said Ms Tan, who teaches at New Town Primary.

ateng@sph.com.sg

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