Education is a guarantee to greater opportunities in life. After acquiring development programs, children are expected to utilize them in balancing their emotions during socialization. In a preschool setting, children with disabilities are relatively slow in utilizing educational programs when compared to children with normal development capabilities (Graham, Harrris and Larsen, 2014). To be more specific, the former have writing and reading difficulties which lag them behind. Generally, the prognosis regarding children with special needs relies on education standards offered in preschools. At this early academic level, interventions pivot on the prognosis of children with special needs regarding the eradication or reduction of their weaknesses. Considering that the first seven years of education in a child’s life are the determinants of intellectual, social, and emotional developments, early integration is viewed as an enhancement of their abilities to obtain maximum potential. It also reduces future educational costs. Furthermore, it improves their chances of stabilizing the economical needs, and thus, depend on their own for survival (Graham, Harrris and Larsen, 2014). Currently, most schools are struggling to integrate early intervention students into regular preschool programs. However, the process is faced with challenges, i.e., most preschools lack effective techniques that can be used to cater for the needs of all types of children. This challenge can be solved by the use of the interpersonal problem-solving model.
Interpersonal Problem-Solving Model
The interpersonal problem solving is one of the most effective techniques that are applicable in solving problems related to children with special needs. The method is exercised by the use of three approaches: criteria of solving the problem, behaviors that contribute to the effectiveness of the problem-solving process, and applicable techniques. As a well-equipped problem-solving team, the team under investigation based its approaches on the rational model. According to Jayanthy and Friend (2010), the rational model includes six stages through which a problem-solving process evolves. The first stage involves definition of the problem. Proper definition of the problem makes the team aware of the tasks that should be done. Consequently, this stage is followed by evaluation of alternative solutions, selecting a solution implementation method and eventually evaluating the outcomes.
Successes of the interpersonal problem-solving process depend on the modes of discussion and documentation of personal views about the problem so as to have a uniform agreement about the nature of the problem. During this process, the members are committed to participate actively. In so doing, they challenge various definitions and dig deeper to get into the root causes of the problem. At the same time, they define possible outlooks regarding the success resolutions. If the problem is not solved, children with reading and writing difficulties grow with these problems, a condition that greatly affects their future lives. This means that they will not be able to develop fully to be in a position of achieving greater opportunities in life. Therefore, they will impose more education cost on the government.
Tackling issues that are related to learners with disabilities is cumbersome. The problem is worthy of material resources and other resources of interpersonal problem solving. Considering the views of all team members, the interpersonal problem-solving approach is the best approach to this problem because it creates a wide range of views. This is the approach that allows proper understanding of the problem. In addition, it eases each step of problem solving. In summary, interpersonal problem solving exhausts the problem fully, setting a good problem-solving foundation. In the end, the interpersonal problem-solving approach saves time and resources.
The core factor to the success of the interpersonal problem-solving process is the potential of problem solvers (Ogulmus and Kargi, 2014). An effective problem-solving team consists of intelligent members who have acquired skills in analyzing. Intelligent problem solvers are capable of developing alternative solutions and also select potential solutions. In addition, they are capable of considering a variety of options to manage the tasks and the relating aspects. Allocation of sufficient time through a crafted process also promises a success of the problem solving process. Adequate time allows problem solvers to generate as much views as possible, while the crafted process increases creativity within the team.
Other success-related factors are the credible analysis technique, set of principles, availability of sufficient success, and participation of appropriate stakeholders and a convener of enough stature. Successful steps in interpersonal problem solving include proper definition of the problem at hand, seeking clarification from each member of the team, working as a team, and evaluating possible solutions. The last step is to select a potential solution and seal the agreement as per the interest of the group. The interpersonal problem solving process requires full commitment of every member of the group. Upon consulting other members, the decision was made that the interpersonal method is the best approach in problem solving. This is because it promotes engagement of right people to get a solution within a short period of time. The approach promotes positive representation of preschools, improves relationships and conflict management skills, and also allows the use of combined problem solving and communication skills through a variety of ides to solve the problem.
Identification of the Problem
Just like any other field that involves new implementation methods, integration of early intervention students into regular preschool programs is accompanied by a number of problems. Upon sharing data and multiple sources from the Ministry of Education and heads of standard school programs, one of the key problems that appeared evident was to meet the needs of children with and without special needs, all at the same time.
Do preschool programs face challenges of meeting the needs of children with normal and delayed development if early intervention students are integrated into regular preschool programs? This was evident from the memories of team members as all of them were heads of preschools that enrolled both children with development challenges and children who were developing normally.
Generation of Solutions
Through the brainstorming strategy, the team neglected the internal censor and devised the following solutions to the challenges that preschools face in meeting needs of children with normal and delayed development. The brainstorming strategy increases creativity with a problem solving team (Al-khatib, 2012). The members of the team were committed to contribute new and general ideas regarding the problem with the help of creativity. The ideas were then combined with the existing thoughts to devise many applicable solutions. Uniformly, the team members suggested that the children should be grouped separately in order to maximize the time spent with the disabled children and at the same time prevent the normal children from lagging behind. The second suggestion was to leave the children alone and give them a chance to cope with one another. This was viewed as a criterion that would enable the disabled learners to adjust quickly because of the concern of their peers who are not only guiding them but also playing with them to show a sense of love. Thirdly, the team agreed that the use of direct instructions in a normal classroom setup would be of great importance. It was aimed at simplifying the learning process and making it simpler for absorption for children with special needs. The fourth solution was to keep things in perspective and provide moral and emotional support. Significantly, this solution has a big weight as far as early education is concerned. Morals and emotional balance are important factors in social life; therefore, it would increase socialization between both types of children and develop their relationships. In the long run, it would enable children to share their needs and draw attention of the teachers to them. The team also agreed that manual and consistent leading of both groups of learners would have ensured that their needs were attended to accordingly and at the right time. The team went further to propose that using learning strategy instructions when teaching the children would ease identification of their problems and immediate assistance offered by the concerned teacher. Lastly, the group suggested that advocating for the children would greatly aid in tackling the problem because it would enable uniform progress in a classroom setup and thus promote direct involvement of the teacher to tackle the needs of both types of children.
Evaluating Potential Solutions
Effective evaluation of the potential solutions requires critical thinking. The team analyzed and synthesized the suggested solutions after which suggestions that obviously seemed ineffective were eliminated. Even though consistent leading was viewed as an amicable solution, it appeared so normal that disabled learners would not be likely to benefit from it. Similarly, using the learning strategy of instructions when teaching the children would be ineffective because it requires more repetitions; therefore, it would be a disadvantage to the children who are developing normally. On the second view of grouping the children according to their abilities, participants agreed that it would reverse the whole situation and lead us to the dark days of discrimination. It would also be costly to the government because its resources will be divided between the respective schools. Sharing of resources among both types of learners reduces educational costs. The team also thought wisely about eliminating the concept of leaving the children to guide themselves. This was decided after viewing the whole matter in detail, where it seemed as if a blind fellow was leading a similar disabled partner while crossing the road. Furthermore, teaching as a profession would lack sense, that is, if learners at that tender age can lead themselves then there is no need of a teacher being within a classroom setup.
The elimination activity left the group with three promising solutions which were then supposed to be evaluated in detail. They included providing moral and emotional support to the learners, providing direct instructions, and keeping things in perspective. At this point, the team was unable to shallowly distinguish a solution that met the desired criteria. Therefore, a decision matrix was developed as the detailed plan and the weighing scale in evaluating the three solutions. The decision matrix eases understanding of a solution. It also increases its potential through a visualization perspective. When using the decision matrix, efficacy, practicality, timeliness risks, manageability, and the expense of the solution are taken into consideration (Brett and McKay, 2013). Therefore, it means that each solution is weighed on a scale from 0 to 10 to determine the importance of the final solution. By using the risk matrix, the team was able to obtain results on the solutions as indicated in Table 1 bellow.
|Solution||Efficacy- 50%||Timeline-10%||Expense-30%||Risk -10%||Total – 100%|
|Keeping things in perspective||3.5||0.9||1.8||0.6||6.9|
|Moral and emotional support||4||0.8||1.8||0.8||7.4|
Selection of the Solution
After a detailed consideration of the three solutions, the group decided that the provision of moral and emotional support to both groups of children was the most amicable solution. The solution ensures that the needs of children are met fully, irrespective of the abilities or disabilities of the children. It was also viewed as a cost-effective solution because its expense is relatively low, standing at 1.8, which is much lower than the medium expenditure. The solution can easily be implemented by the available teachers. It also consumes little time compared to keeping things in perspective and giving direct instructions. The participants were much more confident of the solution and were expecting a positive deviation of 80 to 90 percent. The solution was then implemented and its consistency monitored for the duration of one academic term.
After the one-term duration, the participants conducted a survey to monitor the effectiveness of the solution. It was evident that some schools had not started applying the solution at that time. However, most schools were utilizing the solution. Most children were responding positively to the provision of emotional and moral support. In schools where there were more disabled children than children with normal development, the solution had the performance index of 81%; while in schools which were dominated by normal children, the performance index was 87%. On average, this was 84%, a recommendable improvement in providing needs for both the learners with disabilities and normal children. The performance was also within the range of the team’s desired effect. A conjoined meeting was then conducted in which members agreed that the solution was effective and its implementation should be continued. In relation to this effect, the participants decided to conduct mass communication to schools which had not started implementing the solution to adjust appropriately in order to cater for the needs of children.
This paper has attempted to examine the model for interpersonal problem solving by using the brainstorming strategy. The problem was first identified to familiarize the team members with the specific task to be handled. After the identification of the problem, the team began by suggesting numerous solutions, which were based on their individual views, and then the latter were determined uniformly by the group members. The solutions which seemed to be obviously inefficient were then eliminated. The remaining solutions were then evaluated, and the most potential solution was chosen by the use of the decision making matrix, in which every member of the team participated effectively. Before sealing the deal, the solution was implemented and its consistency was measured for the duration of one academic term. During the one-term duration, the external personnel were deployed in preschools to monitor the impact of the solution. At the end of the term of implementation, most children were adjusting averagely at the pace of 84% as was desired by the team, which indicated the effectiveness of the solution. The team members then agreed to continue implementing the solution due to its outstanding performance. Generally, the team’s overview on the interpersonal problem-solving approach was that it was the best approach in tackling the problem of providing needs to students who were developing normally in the same classroom setup with students with development difficulties. This approach outlines systematic steps that save time and resources when followed appropriately. Given that learning is a process which requires time, the team implemented and monitored the potential solution, provision of emotional and moral support, over a period of a term within a school year calendar.