Our Approach to Special Education
Whytecliff is both a high school and a youth development program exclusively dedicated to meeting the needs of special / diverse learning needs students. The youth who are accepted in our facility typically have struggled in, are not likely to be successful in, or might have left mainstream public and independent secondary schools. In common they require more emotional, practical and tailored learning supports than mainstream and other schools provide.
How We View Special Needs
We endorse a progressive perspective that does not view children according to their particular special needs label or the particular emotional or life challenge they face. Unlike some programs that focus on treating deficits, we focus instead on helping children cultivate their developmental assets (gifts, talents, strengths, relationships, and personal resources), where children are seen as agents of their own growth and change. We believe that whole-person growth and personal well-being should be the ultimate goal for children, with education being a means to achieve that end.
A Strengths-Based Tailored Curriculum Approach
For over 25 years we have employed a model of Positive Youth Development and a curriculum that works from children’s strengths, gifts, interests, talents, and passions. This approach is currently endorsed by the new BC Ministry of Education curriculum “Building Student Success”.
In practice this means placing the individual child at the centre of the learning experience through “self-paced” and “self-directed” learning. Educators at Whytecliff provide materials, experiences, tools and resources necessary for students to investigate a topic or issue. Students are then encouraged to explore, reflect on their findings, and discuss answers, solutions, and insights. This is modified and adapted to the needs of each individual student.
We believe as educators our role is to tap into children’s natural curiosity and help guide it towards healthy and positive paths. In practice, and on a day-to-day basis, we encourage students to articulate their passions, while we leverage their interests to fit curriculum content. This is particularly important for students who have had negative experiences in school and are turned off traditional learning.
To further explain, we have outlined below our approach to many of the specific designated learning challenges that children attending Whytecliff may face. For specific information on our approach to your child’s particular needs please contact us for a further explanation.
–Language Processing Disorder
–Nonverbal Learning Disorders
–Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
–High Functioning Autism
–Chronic Health Impairment
–Behavioral and Emotional Challenges
–Drug and Alcohol Abuse
–Oppositional Defiant Disorder