Educators that have been trained to teach students with special needs are familiar with the challenges faced in this field, and are dedicated to helping said students receive the education they deserve. Learning disabilities can be any number of complications involving a child’s difficulty to read, write, or speak, and can be a challenge for both student and teacher. With that said, accommodations must be made, and there are considerations that should be brought forth beforehand in order to provide special needs students with the best learning environment possible.
The first consideration every teacher should keep in mind is the aesthetics of their classroom. Children tend to thrive in an engaging environment, yet with limited distractions. Conversely, programs with little structure that allow freedom of expression can be just as beneficial. Utilize colorful labels and checklists to help them stay on top of their tasks, but give them the option to change up how they do their work. Children with special needs often struggle when trying to complete an assignment with distractions around them. If changing where they work helps, allow them to do so.
Your tone of voice when speaking to children with special needs plays a bigger part in their receptiveness than you may have initially thought. Be animated in the way you speak rather than monotone. Varying between loudly speaking in a higher pitch to whispering according to the conversation can teach them to do the same, as well as encourage them to take part in the activity you are asking them to.
Rather than focusing on just teaching verbally, help students with special needs learn more efficiently by including visual and auditory strategies. Children who suffer from dyslexia may excel at lessons dealing with color or light, and those who have speech disorders may be excellent writers. It’s important to expose them to a wide range of categories in order for them to experience the joy of doing a job well done.
Always provide positive feedback and reinforcement. When faced with a difficult task, children with learning disabilities can become intimidated and frustrated. Immediately point out what they’ve done correctly and their accomplishments thus far. Inspiring them to continue is crucial. Structure lessons around certain students according to their disabilities. For example, children with autism often thrive when given strict schedules and are rewarded for completing them, whereas a child with ADHD may perform better when given a task that allows them to restructure their environment.
Take time to sit down with these children and talk, listening to what they have to say to best learn their interests and habits. Whether you’re a teacher, or just a parent of a child with special needs, the strategies mentioned above can be extremely beneficial in both a school setting and at home.