A student with Down Syndrome will feel completely at ease at Kit Focus. They will be warmly welcomed, very respected and may even experience a certain privilege. Why? Because in developing our method we had to learn how to work around, or with, the challenges that Down Syndrome can present.
All of the activities created for a student with Down Syndrome can be useful for other students too. Each of our activities exploring basic mathematical calculations were created for the these enthusiastic, bright, students.
Our students enjoy coming. They know that they are progressing, and that we are there for them. Some of our students even begin giving small lessons to other students! We are proud of our work with students with Down Syndrome, and we know that we can continue to learn from them and improve our method further.
It’s in this spirit that we believe in the inclusion of those with Down Syndrome–our source of knowledge–for us, for them and for everyone else too.
Our cognitive exercises help our students to develop an eye for small details and spatial orientation. The exercises are both progressive and creative so that every student with Dyslexia can feel comfortable.
Each session includes an analysis of the students’ feelings and of the new skills they have acquired. The student becomes conscious of the significant moments that shape them, and learns how to control their new skills.
We prefer an analytical method of learning to read. We prompt our students to anchor letters and symbols. The student develops their vocabulary gradually, with particularly focus on words that may be difficult to imagine. Additionally, the student develops a bank of evocative images that serve as a gateway to deciphering.
We use a phonetics-based approach.
Thanks to the versatile nature of the tokens, the student can improve their understanding of sentence structure and sentence building. They begin to understand determiners, conjunctions and more. We also develop speed of execution and a sense of anticipation.
Naturally, we teach the essentials: sentence structure and subject-verb agreement. We create verb conjugation tables with the students so that they can understand how to read and understand these word combinations.
In studying the nature of words, notably the pronouns that seem to “hide” an “identity” and serve as instruments of understanding, the student reflects of the word itself and on its functionality. The tokens have become a useful tool in this new method of studying grammar.
We have created methods that are 100% effective in teaching mental math.
During our sessions, we can think of everything mathematically. The tokens link abstract ideas of time and distance to real numbers, representing quantity or measurements. We teach within these measurements: time, space, distance.
The student will learn to become aware of and manipulate these concepts, while simultaneously being part of these intervals of time. This idea, of visible and invisible numbers that surround us, is at the heart of Kit Focus and the student will be able to apply it while in other environments, particularly in the school setting.
Our method is very efficient alongside the therapies of Psychometrists, Occupational Therapists and Speech-Language Pathologists.
We develop automatic movements, including reflexes and speed of execution. Some of our activities improve coordination and mental flexibility.
Our goal is to assist the student in their studies as much as possible. We always respect the guideline set forth by a student’s specialist. Often, students with Dyspraxia experience other learning challenges and we are able to address these as well.
The Kit Focus method develops many oral language skills: debate, expressing coherent ideas, rhythm, and more. All of our sessions have a natural rhythm to them – we ensure it!
A student with Dysphasia may face challenges with abstract concepts. We help the student without the use of images and pictograms, so that they can slowly improve their own imagination and visualisation skills. We approach abstract concepts in a similar way, helping the student to make comparisons and develop analogies in order to understand.
The student begins to focus on the way they think, and learns how to create stories independently. This is the innovation of our approach. We begin with the physical token, and we trace the thoughts that gradually grow from it.
This process of reinforced thoughts can be applied to the student’s movements, and to their sensations. The student with Dysphasia will become more aware of their senses than ever.
This is how we help the student to use these skills outside of the workshop environment.
All of our activities develop attention, good posture, focus and consistency. We believe:
That showing the student how to do something is to give them the solution. It releases the child from having to do any cognitive work. It allows the student to avoid the task. In showing the student we lose their desire to try and instead we are left with a piece of information that can be forgotten.
That hiding something is making access to it difficult. It’s making the hidden object appealing. Both the teacher and the student can benefit from this sudden interest. See also René Girard’s “mimicking thoughts.” This process helps to capture and hold attention.
That when something disappears we become very interested. As babies, when we see something disappear our eyes widen and we fixate on the newly empty space. As we grow older we acquire the ability to create mental representations of these “disappeared” objects.
That mental representations are recreations of the object. They force the student to focus on himself, review his memory and his network of knowledge. Because the teacher and the student share this activity together, the teacher also engages in this mental representation process. Both teacher and student are engaged. They are both concentrating on the same object. This is the secret to focus!
However, we teach more than just mental representations. We also ask our students, of all ages, to reflect on their movements, their attention span, and even their mental responses. We teach them to focus their attention on their being and on their relationship to the object, the token, both physically and mentally. To reflect is to identify the cognitive functions required to solve the problem, understand the context and invest in themselves.
A student on the autism spectrum (that doesn’t require extensive support) will explore reciprocity-based communication at Kit Focus. These activities, based on the theories of René Girard, will activate mirror neurons. Ilan Dinstein and his team, at the Center of Neuroscience of the University of New York, have developed a hypothesis that those with autism have dysfunctional mirror neurons. This modern research has led us to develop activities that engage mirror neurons and serve as a base for students with autism.
Our students that are diagnosed with autism achieve results. We are not autism specialists, but we are patient and we aim to develop the abilities of each of our students.
Our unique materials guarantee that students with autism will be surprised by the number of interesting activities we can offer with simple tokens. We aim to offer our students a variety of options. Decision making is an important skill. Every choice we make carries explicit and often implicit intent. We shine a light on these choices and we teach how to make them.