I am doing a voluntary service in the Mother and Child Day Care Center for Children with special Needs. It is one of the special Schools in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, India.
We have three Classes where really different Children are educated. The age span of the Children is from 6 to 34, because in India, if you are not married and still living with your parents you are considered to be a Child. Especially when you have a handicap you will never be seen as an adult. So it comes that our Children have this wide range of ages. In our school are also very different levels of education taught which refers to the very different Handicaps the Children have. For instance some of our Children are ‘just’ deaf and because of this partly dumb as well. They are able to also be taught written english because their IQ-Level is almost normal. Then there are Children who have a physical disability and also almost a normal IQ. But the majority of the Children we accommodate in our school have an IQ-Level which is below the normal IQ. The three IQ-Levels are called mild, moderate and severe. Children with a mild IQ are for example able to read and to calculate in low ranges. Moderate IQ-Levels are able to speak and to, for example noticing when to go to toilet, an severe IQ-Level Children can at least mostly do puzzling or putting beats Bis mostly need to be reminded when to go to toilet, for instance.
Our school has one class pre-primary level one, where the moderate Kids are taught. Another class where pre-primary level two is taught for the mild IQ-Level Kids and my class is behavior modification with only severe IQ-Level Cases. Here I teach basic things, for instance very simple tamil words which are needed in everyday life. Counting and recognizing the numbers from one to ten, of course in tamil because english would confuse my three children, as they do not even speak properly. So teaching them how to talk and pronounce is another part of my work, which is also not an easy thing to do.These are the lessons I give in the morning time. From Lunchtime onwards the lessons are more focused on daily activities like serving food on their own and how to eat properly. Going to toilet on their own and especially noticing when they need to go to the bathroom. This is the hardest Job. After the Lunch break we start with fine motor activities. If they are focused on what they do, then they are really good in it. The Problem here is to make them be concentrated on what they are doing and not to become distracted, which is really difficult as my classroom is a passage space and office of my Boss at the same time so it is always very uneasy in my classroom.
In the beginning it was a real struggle and it is probably always like this in the beginning. Because you have to get to know Children, you do not even understand. This was one of the biggest Problems for me and moreover you also do not understand your Co-Workers which makes it even much harder to cope with the different situations you are faced with. But you get into it after some time. It took me about three months to learn their local language at least that far that i can guess what they want from me and that i can tell them what to do or what to leave. Now, I already completed my fifth month here in Puducherry India, I get to know my Children better and better and even my Co-Workers start to have some kind of relationship to me, although it is nevertheless a big issue to understand each other but one finds different ways of communicating despite not understanding by talking. And also the Children In my class begin to know me and to know when I am getting serious about a certain thing and therefore know when to stop the things they are not allowed to do during my lessons. Although I still often feel a little superfluous, because the Indian attitude of working really alters to what I am used to from my native place and their understanding of teaching is also a very different one, looking into the faces of the Children when they did something they are proud of and have this big bright smile on their lips, compensates a lot.