The Imago Dei School offers a variety of therapy services that together address the whole child and their special gifts and unique needs.
- Early Intervention
- NILD Educational Therapy®
- Group Educational Therapy
- Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment
Early Intervention is a program designed to identify young children who may benefit from an individualized program to acquire the basic skills necessary for reading and academic success. This program provides pre-reading and reading instruction that addresses perceptual weaknesses in visual and/or auditory processing, directionality or difficulty with gross and/or fine motor activities.
NILD Educational Therapy®
NILD Educational Therapy® was developed to treat assumed, underlying causes of learning difficulties rather than simply treating the symptoms. It is a true therapy in that it aims the intervention just above the student’s level of functioning and raises the expectations for performance. Students are trained to view themselves as competent, confident learners. The goal of NILD Educational Therapy® is to help students develop tools of independent learning in the classroom and in life.
Grammar School students in NILD Educational Therapy® receive intensive educational therapy several times per week. This can either be in individual or small group settings. These sessions include a variety of techniques designed to address students’ specific areas of difficulty and to improve their overall ability to think, reason and process information. Techniques emphasize basic skill areas such as reading, writing, and math, applying reasoning skills within each area.
Students are taught by educational therapists, who are trained specially in NILD methodology and receive on-going graduate level training to NILD certification. Regular collaboration between the educational therapists, parents and classroom teachers is intended to assess student progress in order to help the student achieve their individual goals.
Group Educational Therapy
Group Educational Therapy (GET), part of the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD) Educational Therapy®, is a distinctive in our Imago Dei School. In GET, our Imago Dei Logic School students meet twice a week in a small group setting with 2 to 3 students and an Educational Therapist. The goal of each GET session is to strengthen the Imago Dei students’ cognitive processes by intentionally implementing a variety of techniques that will help build each student’s core academic skills, independent thinking skills, reasoning, questioning skills and self-regulation. Each of these areas are strengthened and developed as the student’s move through each session together. Each one of the techniques that are used in GET are language-based and are designed to enhance those areas where a student may be vulnerable in his or her thinking. Our time together requires each student to be actively involved as we move through each technique: having to explain his or her thinking and consider how he or she might solve a problem differently. We encourage the students to explore what they know and teach them how to access prior knowledge and experience so that they can build on their cognitive processes. Although our Imago Dei students have various developmental and leaning needs, it has been exciting to see each one of our students grow through Group Educational Therapy. Our goal for the students is not to strive to get each student to a higher academic level (although we are seeing gains in this area) but rather to help them discover the way that they think and the possibility that thinking differently could create cognitive change, thus making them stronger academically and socially.
Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment
What Is Cognitive Enrichment?
Thinking skills are cognitive skills; therefore, Cognitive Enrichment is the process of improving thinking and subsequent learning skills. The goal of public education is to ultimately produce independent thinkers who can solve problems and engage in life-long learning. As John Dewey said, “all which the schools can or need do for pupils is to develop their ability to think.”
Each content area requires thinking. Unfortunately, thinking as a skill is seldom addressed directly in school curricula, like mathematics, history or English. Rather, it is assumed that thinking skills and learning readiness will develop through the study of content. Ideally, they should, but in many cases they don’t. Many people come to the classroom or the workplace without the “learning to learn” skills they need to succeed. Cognitive deficiencies make it impossible for them to learn as well as they should, because they are unable to benefit from the content instruction, whether it comes within a public or private school or via job training, and regardless of its quality.
For such students, Cognitive Enrichment is needed and can be accomplished through focused instruction in developing one’s thinking skills and subsequent capacity to learn. Cognitive Enrichment is also beneficial for students who do not appear to have deficiencies. Just as the teaching of content is designed to increase each student’s understanding within the content domain, so too can cognitive skills be nurtured and enriched for all students.
Cognitive Functions are specific thinking abilities or skills. They can be taught and learned and strengthened at any age. There are three phases of cognitive functioning: Input—Elaboration—Output. (These phases are similar to the three phases of information processing.) At the input phase, information is taken in; at the elaboration phase information is processed through association with previous knowledge; and at the output phase the results of the processing are conveyed.
Structural Cognitive Modifiability is characterized by the belief that the structure of the brain can be changed by systematic and meaningful intervention. This position is supported by current brain research in the field of brain plasticity. If you accept this position, it follows then that intelligence is not fixed or immutable.
Mediation is the interactional process between a learner and an intentional adult (the mediator) who by interposing him/herself between the learner and the external source of stimulation guides (mediates) the learning experience by selection, focusing, and feedback. Such a learning experience is referred to as a Mediated Learning Experience (MLE).
Bridging refers to the process through which cognitive skills are transferred (bridged) to learning content.
Professor Reuven Feuerstein, the founder and director of the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning, has through clinical research identified a set of cognitive functions that can be considered prerequisites for learning. That is, learners who do not have access to these prerequisite skills will be handicapped in learning new skills and or new material regardless of the quality of instruction or the effort put forth by the learner.