Tutors help children with learning disabilities to thrive
After working with a tutor provided by UNICEF, seven-year-old Vladyslav from Kropyvnytskyi is learning to thrive at school once again
Iryna Romanova, 33, says that her seven-year-old son Vladyslav has always been anxious and had trouble dealing with communication and emotions. But when the full-scale war broke out in Ukraine in February of this year, his condition deteriorated even further.
"He has definitely become more anxious, like all of us,” says Iryna. “And it's really difficult to calm a child down when you can't get calm by yourself.”
As the shells fell and gunfire rattled through towns and cities, Vladyslav began to struggle at his school in Kropyvnytskyi. Iryna knew, however, how important attending school was.
"I believe children with special educational needs have to be integrated into society. In my view, from early childhood, they need to be in one team with different types of children because in the future they will have to get along with them somehow."
“His tutor is like a good fairy godmother”
Desperate to help her son thrive, Iryna turned to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who arranged for Vladyslav to see a personal tutor.
Now, he is learning to thrive at school once more.
"Vladyslav focuses on his actions much better,” says Iryna. “Before, he started one task and couldn't finish it, but now he completes his tasks almost all the time. It's getting easier to do homework with him. I hope he will keep succeeding or even become better.”
Personal tutor Kateryna Totok, 24, helps Vladyslav to work on difficult tasks, manage his time and deal with his emotions. She also encourages him to work as part of a team and build strong relationships with teachers and classmates.
"The tutor helps my son in all aspects of school life, like education or communicating with teachers and peers,” says Iryna. “Now he can spend time with his peers during class breaks. His tutor is like a good fairy godmother to him. She is always there, like his shadow. They interact absolutely perfectly and the help is significant."
“He really needs support”
Kateryna, a speech therapist and psychologist, first started working with Vladislav in September.
"First of all, he really needs support in the stimulation of his attention and concentration on one particular topic. He may need some hints or just to be calmed down. Sometimes, Vladyslav is calm and balanced, and needs only a little control during the lesson. But there are also moments when he is too excited and overwhelmed, and I have to take him to a room to rest, switch his attention, so he will return to the lesson.”
NICEF provides the tutor with informational support and didactic materials.
"A tutor helps a child to better blend into the team, to get focused and catch up with the educational programme,” she explains. “For example, we're working with a teacher with whom I'm acquainted, and I know in advance which topics they're going to learn. If it's a difficult topic, I can prepare a vocabulary with the words he doesn't know, for example.”
“We are trying to give back smiles to children”
In her 17 years of teaching experience, Yanina Fialkovska, Vladyslav's homeroom teacher, has never worked with children with special educational needs. The tutor helps her to establish an effective working process with all of her students.
"The tutor takes on a big workload. While I spread my attention across the whole class, she focuses on the child who needs support the most. Together with the tutor, we are trying to give back smiles to children, smiles that unfortunately disappeared due to the war. We dance, sing, build, cut, sculpt. We not only learn but also develop.”
UNICEF and teachers are determined to help children learn and thrive, despite the war.