How To Teach Special Needs Kids (and Everybody)
How to Teach Special Education Kids
If you were hoping for a foolproof, step-by-step guide on teaching every child with special educational needs, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you embrace the reality that we are all individual human beings who enjoy different things, learn in different ways and react differently, you'll find teaching special education kids rewarding. Children with special educational needs are individuals too, therefore this 'how to' may require you to first and foremost alter your thinking.
Getting to know the child you are trying to teach
Do background research.If the special educational need is already identified when the child comes into your care, you will need to research this particular condition. One word of warning - do not let the information you read dictate how you view this child. Think of it as a heads up of what may happen, rather than a manual! You can also ask for reports from other professionals involved or from previous teachers. Again, be prepared to make up your own mind about this child. Children can change from one day to the next, therefore old reports can offer out-of-date views on the child, or may reflect another person's specific biases.
Spend time with the child.Given your background research and reading up, you will have gained a good insight into what the child likes/dislikes. Start off by observing the child by waiting in the background. This will help you get to know his/her facial expressions and body language. It may take hours, days, weeks or even months for the child to feel comfortable around you and for you to fully get to know him/her.
Building a Relationship
Form a good relationship.Before you can begin teaching children with special educational needs, you will need to develop a relationship with them (as with any child). You want to become a positive part of this child's life therefore the best way to start building a relationship is by using things that the child finds enjoyable.
- For example, if the child has a fascination with round objects, find some and show them to him/her. You will know the child well enough to establish when/if they are ready to start accepting you into positive parts of their day.
Keep things positive.It is important to keep things positive as you are beginning to build your relationship. You will need the child to trust in you when you're teaching him/her something new or tricky. You will know when you're ready for the next stage when the child in your care has developed a bond with you and will take notice of you.
Teaching the Child
Decide what the child is, and is not, capable of.Then, along with the parents and any other professionals involve, decide what to teach the child. Try to think about the bigger picture in terms of skills to learn. It's more important that children can get dressed independently than it is for them to push pedals on a bike.
- You will also need to think of what skills are needed. For example, the child needs to be able to follow instructions before you can teach him/her how to put his/her coat on.
Figure out how to teach the child.There are many many different teaching methods for children (with and without special needs) and it is easy to get confused. What you need to think about is how the child learns best or with most ease. For example:
- Is she/he a visual learner? Does she/he look at pictures you show, does he/she notice displays on walls? If so, think about getting some visual aids and timetables.
- Does your child prefer to run around and be very energetic or sit quietly by him/herself?
- Does your child have particular toys that they find very rewarding? You could use these to encourage some other desirable behaviour.
Decide who and when the teaching will take place.Will short formal teaching be best for your child? Or, will teaching opportunities arise throughout the day? Would your child benefit from having multiple teachers? If you have really got to know the child in your care, the questions should be easy to answer.
Regularly review the targets and methods you are using to teach the child and keep in regular contact with the parents.Enjoy what you are doing and always stay positive!
Video: Teaching Special Needs Children : Tips on Teaching in a Special Education Classroom
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