Reframing Failure For Kids With Special Needs in Education

For children with special needs, learning can be a quite the struggle. Maybe they are unable to work at the same pace as their classmates and need extra help from their teacher. Or perhaps they learn in a way that is different from their peers, which can be frustrating and leave them feeling “different.”

For example, a recent article in The Atlantic found children with special needs were having difficulty with the Common Core program used in classrooms across the United States. And another recent article in the Miami Herald says students with special needs are struggling with mandated state educational tests.

Obviously no parent or teacher wants to see a child troubled and feeling like a failure. So how can they “re-frame” this idea for kids with special needs — how can parents and educators work together to help these students get motivated, stay focused and leave them feeling great about their educational success?


P is for Practice

From the start, parents need to put a practice into place that puts an emphasis on education. A study from the University of Leicester and University of Leeds — and published on ScienceDaily — found parents’ involvement and support in a child’s education is crucial to its success. So for all children — including those with special needs — having a home environment that is makes education a priority, and practices that consistently, is critical.

L is for Lessons

For teachers who have a child with special needs in the classroom, lesson planning becomes very important as they now have to take in consideration the learning capabilities of this student. As we have covered in our blog before, we recommend teachers take the time to plan ahead and make accommodations for any students with special needs, and do what they can to make sure the student feels involved to help boost their overall self-esteem.

M is for Modeling

Modeling can be a very effective tool for younger students when you want to show and teach them good behavior skills, such as self-esteem. An article on the website of the National Educational Association gives some great tips on how teachers can be great behavioral role models for their students, from showing respect to thinking out loud. And parents also need to be models — Purdue University found children watch and learn from what their parents say and do. So if you want your child to have a better attitude towards their education, model is for them!

G is for Goals


Goals can be a great way for any type of student to get more excited about their education. An article on LD Online says children who have special needs should be encouraged to set goals for their education, as well as other areas of their life, as it helps them determine their hopes, dreams and desires.

C is for Communication

As with any relationship, communication is very important. In this instance, it’s important for parents and teachers to be constantly communicating with the student in a way they’re going to understand. The good news is that many of the tips we’ve already covered — modeling, goal creating, lesson planning — are all concrete ways of communicating to the student they are not a failure. However, it’s important to continually communicate and praise your student as they succeed in their education.

0 replies
  1. mrboll
    mrboll says:

    Nice entry! Do you have any personal stories from your work that you could mention here? We all can relate to a story.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply