Evolving role of educators for students of determination in the pandemic

The pandemic has brought in lot of challenges including the evolving role of educators. Each form of education – physical, online or hybrid has its own advantages and disadvantages and has had impacts on educators and children alike.

The field of Special Education was not in mainstream of schools before and has evolved drastically in the past 15-20 years. It started with inclusive education, then moved to early identification, frameworks and finally to teacher training. The impact of inclusion is currently in mainstream education and spread across UAE as the visionaries of the country put inclusion at the forefront. The impact of this can be seen at both of the school and community level.

Perseverance, patience and passion are the qualities needed in the field of inclusion. One must be flexible to new learning. An optimistic and growth mindset is needed to accept new changes. The focus for an educator should be on what is in there instead of what is not there in the children with determination.

Team Collaboration between Therapist and Psychologist is also an integral part of inclusive education. These can be extended to teacher training, parents and students. Some of these may require a lot of financial support which can get challenging both for parents and students. The goal should be to provide the facilities in school or secure environment so that teachers and parents also get equipped.

Online education in inclusion has set many hurdles in the beginning but most students have shown progress with each session. Listening skills of most students have improved but challenges related to developing motor skill remain. People have shared more resources in social media groups and there has been a lot more awareness.

There have been case studies about Students of Determination participating in Robotics and Gaming competitions. The result of these studies conclude that students are more technology savvy than before and have more concentration. Teachers too are putting in a lot of effort and the education system is evolved and made more enjoyable. Necessity is the mother of invention and so Behaviour Therapy is happening online. Boundaries have been diluted and we are helping people to be emotionally strong.


Nurture Your Happiness

There has been a recent surge amongst researchers, educators, scientists and doctors in sharing their knowledge about finding the quest to Happiness. If you step into a bookstore, you will see bookshelves filled with a variety of books written by various authors sharing their ‘Secrets to Happiness’. Some of us may have already found this ‘special ingredient to life’ – but for others, it may take an entire lifetime to even begin to understand what the true essence of Happiness really is.

Happy is defined as the following in The Collins English Dictionary:
“Feeling, showing joy.” Therefore, Happy + ness = Happiness. By simply adding this suffix to the adjective Happy, it transforms it into a certain “state, condition or quality.”

Is it that simple? That is the mystery question for many of us and perhaps it may not be as simple as that.

We may need to REFLECT on our own personal experiences starting right from childhood, adolescence through to adulthood.

As children, we all start off by needing the very same things no matter where you were born including Love, Food, Shelter, Safety and Security just to mention a few. Therefore, it is obvious we all start off with NEEDING the same things.

As we begin to grow up, these needs begin to CHANGE as our personalities and characteristics take shape, and then we begin to EXPERIENCE different things during our adolescence. As we all know, adolescence has been referred to as a ‘rebellious stage’ mainly caused by the physiological changes that occur. Nonetheless, adolescence helps us TRANSITION into ADULTHOOD with a bit of know-how. However, do we really know how to experience happiness as adults notwithstanding that by this time in our life we do have so much knowledge and life experiences?

What happened to that child that was filled with so much curiosity about the world? How about that rebellious adolescent who wanted to change the world? Has the adult become overburdened and lost?

Happiness will certainly present itself as a CHOICE as to what matters most in one’s life and how one wishes to live each day. This is very personal to each individual. To be sure, there are specific things that one can EMBRACE in order to achieve HAPPINESS while on this lifetime journey including kindness, mindfulness and selflessness just to mention a few.

We have certainly come to realize during this most challenging time that we are all facing whether as children, adolescents or adults, that our human connectedness allows us to rely on each other in order to achieve HAPPINESS in our life.

Remain in the present so that HAPPINESS can be felt no matter what.

Allow yourself to feel HAPPINESS so that the lingering effects of gratitude can be shared and felt by others too.

Screen Time – A New Challenge For Gross Motor Skills

The Covid Pandemic has changed a lot of things in our daily lives and the way regular activities are conducted on a day to day basis. Since the mobility is drastically reduced and lot of communication and dealings are happening virtually; the screen time for any individual has increased big time and so is it for the children who attend their classes online. Ideally the screen time should be not more than 2 hours per day however now it is increased to 5 to 7 hours minimum for these children to attend their classes, leave aside the other adults and professionals.

I would like to share the aspect of what kind of challenge is this particular situation creating for the Gross motor skills? For that let us first understand what is Gross motor skills? Gross motor skill is the coordination between the mind and body, the gross muscles of the body have their movement as per the instructions of the brain. Many researches have already shared that physical activities of your body are equally important in the academic achievements and is incorporated in the school activities and curriculum. But now since virtual classes are conducted it is a challenge to continue with the same kind of engagement for gross motor skills. The working memory of an individual is directly connected to the physical activity that one does. And so also focus, concentration, other achievements are connected to the physical activities.

Hence today I will be sharing with you some activities for growing children that will help you to overcome the challenge faced with gross motor skills for your children at home. The University of Harward has done lot of research on how necessary is gross motor skill development during the early years of the child. In school there are many other activities along with gross motor skill development that will be take care of. However it is very important for the parent also to focus on this one factor at home as well. Activities that can be included in gross motor skills at home can be :-

  • jumping (on a trampoline) If you do not have trampoline, then a spring mattress also will do. You can keep it in a corner in the house. Jumping on it will really be a stress buster for your little one. Jumping can also be done with a low height stool and the child can go up and down of that small stool.
  • You can take red and green coloured tapes (non-electric) and make a design (like a grid) on the floor. You can make them walk and run in those lines. These activities are lots of fun. They are not only learning to walk and do the physical movements but also it creates an impression in their minds about the horizontal lines, vertical lines and slanting lines which si a very significant concept of common patterns.
  • A spin ball activity – tie a ball with the cord to the ceiling and the child can swing and catch the ball which also will give the gross motor movements.
  • You can ask your child to stand on one leg and tie the shoe laces of their shoes

It may sound not so impressive but it is very important to teach the child in their early years kicking, jumping, running, crawling, flipping over the body, hoping, skipping, etc. It should be mandatorily conducted on a regular basis. Parents just need to organize at least 20 to 30 minutes a day for these activities for the children. If during this period, it is not provided then the child will have issues in focus and concentration in the later years.

We might have heard about Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, dysgraphia, etc. Dyslexia is a learning language disorder. But I will talk today about Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia. Dyspraxia is regarding the children who have difficulty in using the gross muscles and the mind-body coordination with which the body movements. They are clumsy, hesitant to interact with other children and hate sports and field activities but they love to be seated as they have a challenge with their gross motor skills.

Dysgraphia is regarding the children with have a difficulty with small muscles usage to do the fine movements of the fingers like writing, colouring, pasting, cutting, etc. and similar fine motor skill challenges.

We have to ensure that we support our children and give them the opportunity to develop both the motor skills through innovative and creative methods. These activities are all interconnected and required for the overall development of the children in their early years.


So parents, be more watchful and use these tools and techniques which are available at home and will help your little child develop well. And you will see that you have a less anxious and less aggressive child at home as their frustrations are all releases out through these activities as they do not know how to manage their emotions at that age. We need to ensure 30 minutes of the day is dedicated to developing the gross motor skills of our children daily.

Dealing with sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry is the protectiveness, opposition and struggle between siblings. It is a concern for almost all parents of two or more kids. Problems often start right after the birth of the second child. Sibling rivalry usually continues throughout childhood and can be very frustrating and stressful to parents.


Sibling rivalry is the protectiveness, opposition and struggle between siblings. It is a concern for almost all parents of two or more kids. Problems often start right after the birth of the second child. Sibling rivalry usually continues throughout childhood and can be very frustrating and stressful to parents.


  1. Dos while dealing with sibling rivalry
  • Parents can set a norm of desired behaviours expected from the children to follow
  • Parents should set an example of constructive interactions to role model the behavior expected from the children.
  • Children should witness that you are talking and negotiating with a family member to solve problems.
  • Explain the children that no hitting or other physically violent behaviour is allowed.
  • The children should not call each other names but they should express their feelings openly and honestly without injuring their siblings physically or verbally.
  • You can also make a ‘safe zone’ for small children where they are able to play freely without other toddler coming and damaging their play area or toys.
  • Also you can give some personal space dedicated to each of them such as a cupboard or drawer where they can keep their belongings.
  • Explain the children that they should not destroy or damage any property.
  • Put all these rules on display in the house so that you can bring to the child’s notice when they tend to break the rules.
  • Set up and explain the judicious consequences to the children for any destructive or aggressive behavior and be consistent with these consequences.


  1. Don’ts while dealing with sibling rivalry
  • Parents should not force a child to apologize but instead support a child to see things from their sibling’s perspective. This will over time help child to better interpret behaviours and learn to be more compassionate and respectful.
  • Parents should not use labels to describe a child. E.g ‘He’s the shy’, ‘She is brainy’, etc. Instead, parents should encourage each child to stretch to roles that may be outside his or her usual behaviour patterns
  • Parents should not label children as competitors or enemies. Don’t make negative sibling comparisons and criticisms ‘Why can’t you kids ever get along?’- it will increase the rivalry. Instead, put a more positive, hopeful spin to comments. E.g. ‘I look forward to you two cooperating with each other’.
  • Parents should not compare one child in the family to another. Comparing siblings can fuel anger and negative feelings. Each child is unique, and that uniqueness should be celebrated.
  • Parents should not play favourites. It’s normal for a parent to feel a special closeness to particular child from time to time. But strive to be ethical and resist showing an obvious preference. Jealousy, resentment, and hate brew when parents play favourites.


  • Preventive measures – Instill a positive environment
  • Make a positive, supportive and cooperative environment at home that has arrangement to get along.
  • Teach your children to respectfully express what they feel, their point of view or desires. Mention often that all have a right to express their point of view.
  • Parents should direct the arguments of siblings towards problem solving steps of conflict resolution such as identify the problem; brainstorm solution options; note pros and cons of each option; select one option to try out; and repeat steps as needed.
  • Acknowledge, highlight and encourage each child’s personal strengths and uniqueness whenever possible.
  • Praise the children whenever they get along. Give them a new privilege to reward their cooperative behaviour.
  • Significantly highlight attachment to and affection for siblings – ‘I really admire what good friends you’ve become’.
  • Respect the possessions of kids and take permission before giving a younger sibling the special toys, comfort item, furniture or clothing of the older sibling.
  • Spend quality one-on-one time (uninstructed) with each child such as story time, extra cuddles at nap or television time. Take turns having one child run an errand or complete a household chore with you.
  • Teach children to work as a team together. Parents can put both the children in one team (Vs parents) in the games that they play at home instead of putting the children against each other. Parents can set collaborative rules to support each other. In this way they will learn to eradicate their internal rivalry.


  1. Managing Severe cases

Many times it so happens that the situation becomes uncontrollable. And the sibling rivalry is excessive or very often becomes aggression, physically injurious or verbal attack. These out of control situations can be prolonged screaming, throwing items, physical injury, cruel teasing / tricking, or other forms of physical or emotional attacks. In these circumstances the parents should take the help of child psychologist & counselor for precautionary / preventive measures and corrective interventions.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Do you have a child in your class who seems to listen but does not follow instructions? And is always on the move?
Are you confused why are some of the students not behaving the way they should?
Does your child throw tantrums and you do not know how to handle it?
Is your child unable to make friends?
These are all behaviors and any behavior can be changed or modified. The entire science of understanding and modifying the behavior is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), popularly also known as ABA therapy. It is the most scientifically driven procedure for behavior modification. Here are some tips to understand and help modification of behaviors.

Do you have a child in your class who seems to listen but does not follow instructions? And is always on the move?

Are you confused why are some of the students not behaving the way they should?

Does your child throw tantrums and you do not know how to handle it?

Is your child unable to make friends?

These are all behaviors and any behavior can be changed or modified. The entire science of understanding and modifying the behavior is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), popularly also known as ABA therapy. It is the most scientifically driven procedure for behavior modification. Here are some tips to understand and help modification of behaviors.

So, let us understand what is the ABC of ABA?

  • A stands for Antecedent. When any behavior occurs there is a situation that precedes the behavior which is called Antecedent (what happens before, what triggers the behavior). Antecedent is very important to understand if we are looking at modifying the behavior of a child / adult / autistic child / non-autistic child.
  • B stands for Behavior that occurs after antecedent.
  • C stands for consequences. Consequence is what happens after the behavior occurs. Consequences can also be classified into reinforcement and punishment. If we want to change or modify the behavior then it is of utmost importance to understand the concept of reinforcement and punishment.

Reinforcement is used to increase the occurrence of a wanted behavior. There are two types of reinforcement – Positive & Negative.

Punishment is used to decrease the occurrence of an unwanted behavior. Punishments, traditionally are considered not to be used unless very necessary as it leaves a scar on the psyche of a child. And there are two types of punishments – Positive & Negative

If you learn to use reinforcements and punishments, then you are able to modify anyone’s behavior. So for all those parents, teachers and caregivers who want to induct good, desirable and socially acceptable behavior in the children, they must understand the science of using reinforcements and punishments

Let us understand the types of reinforcements and punishment:-

Positive punishment – Positive punishment means adding something that the child does not like in the schedule after the occurrence of an unwanted behavior. E.g. Max a student who gets poor results so every time when max brings home a poor result the mother will ask him to wash the dishes after dinner. So she added something that Max does not like? So to avoid this Max will start getting better grades. And thus he decreases the behavior of bringing poor grades. This is called positive punishment.

Negative punishment – Negative Punishment is taking away something the child likes to decrease an unwanted behavior. E.g. a child if misbehaves in class then the teacher will deny a PE period for him. So if the child does not want to miss the PE period then he will make sure that he behaves well in class. Thus the undesired behavior in class is reduced. This is negative punishment.

Positive Reinforcement – To increase a wanted behavior by adding something that the child likes is called a positive reinforcement. E.g. If a child displays a good behavior such as greeting guests or talking nicely with others, and the parent gives a favorite eatable or visit his favorite place or extra play time. So this will make the child continue the wanted behavior in future. This is positive reinforcement.

Negative reinforcement – Negative reinforcement is to take away something the child dislike to increase wanted behavior E.g. Teacher gives a task to Roby to be completed in 5 minutes and if he does so she will not send him for swimming as Roby dislikes swimming. So to avoid the swimming Roby finished the task in 5 minutes. This is negative reinforcement

Try using the reinforcements and punishments with the children and you will be able to achieve amazing results. The important thing is that you need to be consistent with your implementation to obtain the desired results.

Behavior Modification using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

An ABA practitioner observes behavior in the natural environment (classroom, home, public places etc.), to identify why the behavior occurs (known as antecedent) and what happens after the behavior (known as consequence). They also analyze what are the environmental factors that are responsible for a behavior to occur OR prevent certain behaviors from occurring. A consequence is the result that happens after the behavior. If the behavior is a desired behavior a reinforcer is introduced as a consequence for the behavior to reoccur. The key for effective intervention is to identify problem behaviors which need to be changed and which reinforers are acting for reoccurrence of behavior.

An ABA practitioner observes behavior in the natural environment (classroom, home, public places etc.), to identify why the behavior occurs (known as antecedent) and what happens after the behavior (known as consequence). They also analyze what are the environmental factors that are responsible for a behavior to occur OR prevent certain behaviors from occurring. A consequence is the result that happens after the behavior. If the behavior is a desired behavior a reinforcer is introduced as a consequence for the behavior to reoccur. The key for effective intervention is to identify problem behaviors which need to be changed and which reinforers are acting for re occurrence of behavior.

The three strategies to deal with socially inappropriate behavior are :-

  1. Positive Reinforcement should not be provided on the occurrence of unwanted behaviour. Think of a situation: whenever a child throws tantrums the caregiver turns the TV on. In this case the consequence of a bad behaviour is reinforced (TV Viewing). When the behaviour analyst observes this behaviour they clearly guide the caregiver to stop reinforcing the behavior. Due to this wrong reinforcement the behavior of the child is likely to become worse in tantrum throwing which becomes of longer duration. We need to teach the child how to request TV time in an appropriate way instead of throwing tantrum.
  2. Appropriate Behavior should be reinforced.

There is a need to increase intensity and duration of reinforcement for appropriate behavior. In above example there is a need that child should be made aware of inappropriate behavior and the child will get reinforcement only if the child behaves appropriately. In this case, the behavior analyst may teach the child to request for TV time by using the terminology “TV please?” if the child can vocalize that statement. The behavior analyst would then train caregivers to only turn the television on when the child says “TV please” and not when the child throws tantrums.

Using these first two strategies in a combination may serve to eliminate the increase in the problem behavior.

  1. Introduce something that a child dislikes to reduce the Unwanted behavior. When the behavior is extremely severe, where individual is harming themselves or others, unpleasant consequence (Positive Punishment) can be introduced. Instead of providing the reinforcer, the behavior analyst may train caregivers to present a consequence the individual does not like, at all. The term behavior analyst’s use for this strategy is punishment. Say, for instance, in the example described above, the child’s tantrum behavior usually results in him forcefully hitting his body against objects in the environment, resulting in bruises and cuts. In such a case, any instance of the behavior could lead to the child severely harming himself. As an intervention, the behavior analyst may recommend a punishment procedure where, if the child doesn’t like being sent to the time-out corner, it is recommended that whenever he throws a tantrum he is taken to the time-out corner until he is quiet and calm for a designated period of

A combination of all three strategies may be used in this case for effective behavior management.

Are you facing a challenge dealing with the children with special needs at home?

With the ‘Stay at Home’ compulsion, I am sure many parents might be going through frustration, as they have to manage kids with different level of challenges at home. Different children are impacted at a different level, it could be mild, moderate, and severe or some may even be profoundly impacted. Hence as a parent, we first need to understand the level and need of our child.

Next, it is most important to change our mindset, as we take it for granted that ‘these kids with challenges cannot manage to learn on an e-learning platform’.  In fact, being an educational psychologist I have tried and tested online learning with our lovely children and was truly happy to see how beautifully various online training programs work to support these children with challenges and help them developing their knowledge and skills.  With the present generation, I believe that e-learning is much more effective than in-class learning. So, do ensure that even these children get an exposure as any other children does.

So, the key to this is, a little bit of research on Google, to find out what sort of online learning support can be provided for the children with special needs at home. One click and you will see a menu of amazing online learning programs and online therapies too. Then, why do we refrain these lovely children from having access to what they deserve and what they need? So make the most of all the available online support like, online behavioural therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.

As you manage to identify the need of your child and give him/her the experience of online learning support it will not only help him, but even help you to develop the necessary skills, as you will be a silent supporter at the back-end. Thus, ultimately it will nurture you as a parent too. And I strongly believe that no one can be a better teacher/therapist than a mother.

Thus being a passionate educational psychologist, I have assured that my team of experts and educators is well equipped and prepared to give the best possible online learning support to these lovely children. And considering the fact that these kids are at home in their comfort zone, we have given them the flexibility of time, which allows the learner to choose any of the available time slots between 9.am to 8.pm. from Sunday to Thursday.

Apart from this, I am sure there might be many hyperactive kids at home, who probably happen to be restless when they are not engaged in any productive activity. The best thing to calm down such a child is to give him/her enough opportunity to utilize their physical energy, in activities like trampoline jumping, skipping or bouncy ball jumps and if nothing just make him aware that he has a corner for himself, where you can lay a mattress and allow him to jump, roll and bounce until his energy is totally drained out. Then let him drink water and get back to his e-learning desk. This will even help him to have a better focus while learning. Do look up for online behavioural therapy programs too as they are really helpful and effective.

On the other hand, I would strongly recommend all the parents to utilize this period and well equip themselves, by learning through a few online courses that are meant for parents and teachers to help them deal with various challenges that they face while handling their kids at home or helping them to develop their knowledge and skills.


How to Deal with Slow Learners

All kids are special in their own way and have their own strengths and weaknesses. If a child is not performing well academically, then, instead of scolding the child and not supporting him/her, it is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to understand what difficulty the child is facing and then takes measures to help them overcome it. Generally, the low academic performers are of two types, one is slow learners and the other kids with learning difficulties.

The two words ‘slow learners’ and ‘kids with learning difficulties’ are often interchangeably used which is wrong. It is very important to understand the difference between the two types and know how to treat each type.

Understanding slow learners

  • The average IQ of a child should be between 85 to 110. So, if a child’s IQ is less than 85, then he/she is regarded as a slow learner. This means that there is a general slowness in the system. On an IQ continuum, some of these kids are educable, some are trainable and some are less intelligent.
  • A child with low intelligence does not behave or study age-appropriate, and so we cannot work on their intelligence, but there are other creative ways to work on improving them. One of the ways is engaging these kids with dance and music therapies as it makes them feel good and they try to perform at their level and capacity. They can be involved in more skill-based jobs, for example, girls can go to beauty cultural therapist and boys can go to the bakery.

Understanding kids with learning difficulties

  • Kids with learning difficulties have an IQ above 85 and are actually very intelligent. Their IQ is in the place but are not performing well academically. Kids with learning difficulties are actually intelligent but yet do not perform well in areas like reading, writing, spelling, maths, etc. Even kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder are also very intelligent, they learn very fast but each type is a unique combination and they have their own weakness and strengths.
  • These kids consistently keep failing in various subjects in class. The issue is, their difficulties are not being addressed by parents and teachers. Here, psychometric assessments play a big role. There are various types of assessments example verbal and non-verbal combinations, assessments that identify the reading, writing, spelling and then understand where the difficulty is.

Dr. Alka Kalra, the renowned educational psychologist, and director of Eduscan Group believes that kids do not have learning disabilities, but they have different learning abilities or learning difficulties. If we call it a disability, then we won’t ever be able to find a cure for it. Whereas, if we call it difficulty, we will be determined to look for a solution to overcome it. The various measures mentioned above are performed at Eduscan in their Institute of determination. They work towards pinpointing the factor that is causing learning difficulties in kids and then works towards helping the child to overcome them. They have helped various such kids who are now performing well academically and are in fact working at manager level posts. They believe that it is very important to know your child better and identify their difficulties and support them because early intervention makes a big difference!

How to Identify & Treat Dyslexia among children

The word dyslexia is made up of two parts, ‘DYS’ means ‘not’ or ‘difficult’ and the other part ‘LEXIA’ means language, words or reading. So, in its real sense, dyslexia means difficulty with words. It is regarded as a specific learning difficulty with reading which affects spelling as well. The kids with dyslexia have difficulty with reading, compression, and math. According to Dr Alka Kalra, a renowned educational psychologist, and director of Eduscan Group, dyslexia is not a learning disability but it is a ‘differently learning ability’.

Children with dyslexia are actually very smart, creative, innovative and extremely imaginative. Since they have a different learning ability, they need to be taught the way they learn. They are picture thinkers and they learn by looking at pictures. There are various systems and methods that help people to cope with this difficulty.
If you are born dyslexia your brain remains dyslexic but then there is a method which can bring both kids and adults to come to dyslexia. Dr Alka believes that dyslexia can be corrected for a lifetime if proper learning systems and methods are followed. She runs a training program at Eduscan which is for the duration of 35 hours which is based on dyslexia correction method. Here they work on the following:
1. How to fix the energy levels of kids: For dyslexic children with ADHD (Attention deficit/ hyperactive disorder), it is important to manage their energy levels.
2. How to focus and concentrate: Here, the focus of kids is improved by using a kush ball method.
3. How to read correctly: Clay is given to children and they are taught how to make three-dimensional letters. With these letters, they start to work on correcting their spellings and eventually start to read.

It is extremely important that the teachers are educated about these methods of learning. They are the first ones to identify these difficulties in kids. If we are trying to teach kids in Latin, but they are able to learn only in Greek, then the teachers should be the ones to identify such difficulties in kids. Also, parents who are not closely involved with the learning and development of their children won’t even know that their child is going through this difficulty. Therefore, early intervention in your child’s learning abilities is important and makes a lot of difference!

About Dr. Alka Kalra

Dr. Alka is a community development authority (Dubai) certified psychologist and a professional counselor. She believes that each child has unique skills and strengths and is particularly passionate about children with learning difficulties. Through assessments (personality, aptitude and intelligence) and tailor made courses at Eduscan, not just for children but also teachers and parents, she has positively touched the lives of numerous children.
She regularly shares her views on parenting and child rearing practices on TV, radio and on Eduscan’s social media. She has been appreciated and awarded various titles including,

  • Top Indian Achiever Super 100
  • “Woman of the year” by International Women Association
  • “Lady of the year” by Indian Ladies association
  • “Lioness of the year” by Lions Club International
  • All India Best Cadet ‘Gold Medal’ by Prime Minister of India Late Indira Gandhi