Ten tips for teachers
Educators are unsung heroes in our society. They make sure young people are armed with the information they need to become productive adults. They continue to move students progressively upward. Too often, teachers have been forced to be all things to all people. In the case of teachers that have children with special needs in their classrooms, there is another task: To encourage a child that has a disability to participate in the learning environment even if they communicate differently, or complete assignments in an alternative fashion.
Here are 10 ways a teacher can encourage acceptance of special needs students.
Understand the nature of a child’s disability.
Once an educator understands a child’s abilities and challenges, he or she will have a better idea about how to proceed with lesson plans.
Teach from a compassionate point of view.
A child with disabilities is already concerned about standing out – it’s a time in life when children prefer to fit in.. In many cases, special needs children don’t need the bar lowered for their benefit. But they also don’t want the requirements to be so vastly different from the way other students satisfy the assignment that it attracts unwanted attention.
Make sure students are showing sensitivity.
Today, with bullying prevention being in the forefront of school activities, new programs to encourage kindness among children are becoming the norm
Call on a special needs student during lectures.
This one may seem simple, but students with disabilities want to participate in class. If they use alternative or assistive devices to communicate, allow them to use it to answer questions. Call on students when they volunteer to answer a question, or even when they don’t.
Find ways similar paths for physical participation.
Children with physical difficulties often have trouble taking part in activities. If students are playing baseball, let a student wheel around the bases, or if there is the possibility of obtaining adaptive equipment, an educator should look into it.
Give children all of the information they need about a classmate’s disability.
Educators should explain to children that a special needs student may move differently than they do. Or, they may speak differently than they do. Creating an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable is helpful to all students.
Discuss the importance of diversity and social acceptance.
An educator can help students see that there are all different sorts of people in the world, and everyone has something to contribute. Give students examples of people that have disabilities that have contributed something unique to the world. This way, they’ll see being different is valuable.
Debunk the meaning of “normal.”
Each person has their own definition of what’s normal. People with disabilities have a certain number of tasks they complete during the day, and certain ways they accomplish goals. Teachers can explain that this is as normal to the student with special needs as another student’s daily routine is to his or herself.
Ask a child – any child – if you can help them out.
If a child seems to be having a difficult time reaching out or participating, ask them directly how a teacher can help. If that means breaking the ice between a student with special needs and his or her classmates, then why not schedule some group assignments so students can get to know each other better?
Negative perceptions can be irritatingly difficult to break. All children – not only those with disabilities – need to know that they are unique. Teachers are role models that have the ability to help children move past stereotypes, and at every turn, it helps children learn to love themselves and others is they understand that everyone is different.
Suggestions to enhance a student’s development:
- Remember a student with cerebral palsy is very much like any other student.
- The student gets the same enjoyment as other students from having friends and being accepted.
- Focus on what a student can do and the ways in which the student’s capabilities can be developed to experience success and so develop a positive self-concept.
- See beyond the disability to the whole child.
- Encourage and explain to other students how it is important for the student with cerebral palsy to be as independent as possible.
- Allow the student the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the curriculum.
- Remain optimistic yet realistic about the student’s progress.
- Work closely with parents and other professionals to help the student maximize his/her potential. A positive attitude will influence others, including all students.
- Become informed about cerebral palsy and the individual student’s abilities, needs and interests.