Our Online School
The word Illam (written as இllam) means home in Tamizh and it ties wonderfully with the French école for school. The home is a pivotal part of this programme and has allowed Snehadhara Foundation to achieve goals with the parent as an important, crucial cog along with the facilitators in the wheel centered around the child. Incidentally, the Arabic word ilm means knowledge.
Story of école இllam
Snehadhara Foundation has been using the Arts as a medium to impart learning and achieve independence, inclusion, and therapeutic goals for the children with special needs.
While the past many years have seen the impact on our children in the Direct Care facility, we have been keenly aware that remote teaching and tutoring for children with special needs is barely existent in India.
Inadvertently, the COVID-19 situation took our whole offline programme onto a virtual medium, accelerating our desire to reach out beyond the Snehadhara family. It helped us hone our essential plan of having the child in a comfortable setting, getting the parents involved typically beyond work hours; and making the programme available to a larger community.
Buoyed by the success of our digital Direct Care programme in the lockdown situation and the overwhelming requests to open up the learning experience to children from other quarters of the country, we launched école இllam, India’s first virtual school for children with special needs.
Our Direct Care children will continue in their semi-residential programme, while those part of école இllam will learn online in a curriculum that is interspersed with the occasional contact session.
The Intent of école இllam
The COVID-19 situation forced a lot of schools and colleges to shift their teaching methodology online. However, children with special needs barely had a smattering of learning through the lockdown as the institutions grappled with the complexity of reaching out to these children in an entirely different format.
Thus, we launched école இllam with the express need to create a specific online learning programme tailored to focus on meeting the learning outcomes and therapeutic goals of these children. Most children have been familiar with some basic apps on mobile phones, some of them even having functional knowledge of devices such as tablets and iPads.
Capitalising on that, we work our way through the arts and look to meet each child’s varied goals, give them reprieve from the cooped-up feeling of a pandemic world, engage them emotionally and intellectually, and in a way foster a sense of co-learning with similar peers as well as their parents.
What is école இllam?
Specially crafted arts-based sessions are conducted online for children with special needs who want to sample our work without signing up to be with the Foundation full-time. They can do our virtual courses along with the sessions and workshops that they’re used to attending through the day. We recognise that while counselling sessions are still available online, there is a dearth of direct, knowledge-enhancing engagement through the internet for children with special needs. With école இllam, we hope to plug that.
Specially crafted arts-based sessions will be conducted online for children with special needs who want to sample our work without signing up to be with the Foundation full-time. They can do our virtual courses along with the sessions and workshops that they’re used to attending through the day. We recognise that while counselling sessions are still available online, there is a dearth of direct, knowledge-enhancing engagement through the internet for children with special needs. With école இllam, we hope to plug that.
Based on the need to engage with the children for a continued duration of time to meet the therapeutic and learning goals, école இllam courses have been categorised as Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, and are open to children with special needs from across the country.
Highlights of école இllam
- The Direct Care programmes that have been tried, documented, and researched over the past 8 years, have been adapted to form the curriculum of the virtual classroom.
- Uniquely designed to partner the parents to participate in their ward’s learning and therapy process, thus, creating sustainable care for the child. This crucial feature, singularly, has been instrumental in parents being able to connect with the child better while simultaneously keeping their jobs and careers.
- The virtual classroom sessions have been fortified with newer approaches that come in with different styles of working online and under the same overarching principles of using Arts Based Interventions as the primary methodology of learning together and meeting the therapeutic needs of the child.
- Per the curriculum designed to achieve therapeutic goals, the virtual classroom sessions include crafts and multi-art forms like quilling, yoga, theatre, gardening, cooking, sign-language, singing, drumming, hygiene sessions and more.
- Interaction with the children at the campus at least once a year through camps to facilitate experiences of group interaction to build social inclusion.
- Sessions will be conducted by our team of trained and certified facilitators, arts practitioners, and educators.
- Children will be introduced to science concepts through interactive and hands-on activities in our specially designed course ‘Vigyaana Vihaara’, focused on sharpening the logical mind through learning about Science in everyday life.
- Through the sessions of ‘Maitri- Building Our Social World’ where they will be able to interact and build meaningful connections with children from other programmes as well as those from organisations with which we are collaborating.