Kids who require special education aren’t vastly different from most other kids, outside of the manner in which they learn and retain information.
That means they still enjoy having fun, learning new things, interacting with other kids and just being themselves. So whenever it’s possible, integrating them in regular classroom activities at school can be extremely beneficial for the child.
It can also benefit the teachers and classroom environment as a whole, considering that the more special ed kids are able to participate, the easier it will be for a teacher to instruct a full classroom and not have to divide their resources between two different types of classroom.
Here are a few ways to get special ed kids more involved with classroom activities:
1. Drawing — This might only fit the curriculum in a handful of classes and situations, but drawing is a non-threatening activity that students of all learning styles and abilities can engage in. If you’re looking for a specific activity to bring a group of students together, drawing is a good option. Avoid front-of-the-class presentation so kids won’t be worried about being embarrassed.
2. Reading Time — You’ll want to measure reading by time instead of by length of a book covered. Many special ed students will be slower readers and will struggle to keep up, so institute a reading period of 20 minutes or so, and whatever is covered is fine.
Just be sure that everyone is paying attention to the material and not being distracting.
3. More time to complete work — Extending deadlines for some kids and not others is tough, but consider being more lenient with those kids who have special needs or learning disabilities. They’re going to have a much more difficult time completing things like writing and reading assignments, so don’t put pressure on them to perform at the same level as the other kids.
While you don’t have to announce the discrepancy in due dates, don’t dole out punishment or correction to special needs kids as quickly as other.
4. Recess — Recess can be a great chance for special needs kids to feel integrated with the rest of their peers, yet it can also be an extremely discouraging time for them. Keep an eye on your class during recess and make sure put a stop to any bullying or rough play directed at special needs, or really any kids on during recess. If you avoid that, it should be a positive experience for any child who might feel a little out of place in the classroom.
5. Painting — Like drawing, painting is a great non-threatening educational activity, that many special needs kids will enjoy and possibly even excel at.
6. Question/Answer — Give the entire classroom, including the special needs kids a chance to answer some questions. Don’t limit their ability to participate, even if their answers might not be as well-informed as others. Steer their answers in the right direction, and help them succeed.
7. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach — It’s critical to understand that even without special needs kids, the learning tendencies of students will differ from child to child. For a teacher with 30 kids, it’s hard to think that way, yet it’s necessary for a genuine educational experience to take place.
8. Patience — Lastly, make sure to exercise as much patience as possible for special needs children in a regular classroom. Chances are they just want to fit in, and the gentler you are in the way you approach them, the more successful they’re going to be and the more they’ll be able to learn.
A special needs child might be met with a bit of a learning curve when confronted with a regular classroom, but with the right kind of environment and attention, they can have a successful transition, and can be productive members of that classroom.