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Celebrate Difference – To Mainstream Or Not To Mainstream, That Is The Question…


Choosing what school any child should go to can be difficult. But when your child has special needs or learning difficulties, making the right decision is vital. But we all know what stigma clings to the term “special needs.” If your child has the option to go to either mainstream or a remedial school, this decision becomes even harder. You want your child to be happy, but there is that underlying fear that if they go to a remedial school, this may in some way affect them when they are older.


It is very important to firstly understand what special needs really are. Learning disabilities take a variety of forms, which do not reflect on a child’s basic intelligence but may lead to frustration, low self-esteem, emotional, social and behavioural disorders and a great deal of heartache and frustration for parents, children and teachers. In today’s day and age, parents are in even bigger competition with each other than their children are and anything that is “not normal” becomes a soap opera in itself. Before you feel the need to grab a Xanax dear parent, put your child first, learning difficulties are usually due to the following:


  • Visual perceptual problems:

The incapacity to interpret or give meaning to what is seen. This can lead to difficulty with reading, writing, spelling and mathematics for which a child requires recognition, insight and correct interpretation of what is seen.

  • Auditory perceptual problems: 

    The inability to interpret auditory stimuli. Leads to difficulties in distinguishing subtle differences in sounds and in hearing instructions against a background of noises. Also leads to difficulties with reading, spelling and with comprehension. Auditory perception is the ability to process auditory stimuli and to make sense of it.

  • Motor problems:
    A child can have difficulty on a gross motor co-ordination level (involving large muscles of the body) or fine motor co-ordination level (involving more complex finer movements executed mainly by the hands). This can lead to difficulty in participation in sport and in classroom activities, e.g. posture, pencil grip, handwriting and cutting out.
  • Neurological disorders and/or physiological disorders: 

    Such as ADD and ADHD. Without adequate focussing of attention and concentration there can’t be learning. Memory – auditory-, visual-, rote visual- and long term-, short term – and working memory are all essential to learning and important for academic success.

  • Language:

A developmental language delay, language confusion or language pathology prevents the child from understanding fully the information which is heard in the classroom, or what he must read, as well as preventing him from expressing himself orally or on a written level.

  • Emotional problems:

Can impact on successful learning.

As you can now better understand, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to the bigger picture of your child’s wellbeing and education. Put very simply, remedial education applies to children who have average to above average intellectual abilities, but do not perform according to their potential as a result of difficulties with reading and/or writing and/or arithmetic.

Whereas special educational facilities cater for children with below average intellectual abilities.

Some schools also advertise that they offer mainstream with assistance. In these schools, children with remedial problems receive extra help and individual attention with mainstream subjects, but remediation of reading and/or writing and/or arithmetic problems do not necessarily take place as mentioned above.

Before you categorise your child, you first need to understand their genetic make-up if you suspect that there may be a problem. Every child is unique and has different needs, it is up to you as a parent to do the right thing and find the right environment for your child and not let any form of stigma persuade you otherwise!


Celebrate Difference – To Mainstream Or Not To Mainstream, That Is The Question…


Inge Liebenberg




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