It is the first day of the school year and you walk into your assigned classroom. Unusually, you find a differently abled student in that classroom. Initially you try not to give much attention to the student thinking that it might make him uncomfortable, but you just can’t take focus off the child.
As a teacher you might have handled many students with different mentalities but teaching a differently abled student can be a challenge if you do not know how to handle them without being offensive.
Here are few things you should keep in mind when teaching differently abled children
1. Equality in classroom
Usually children with special needs are more likely to be bullied compared to other students in the class. Set common rules for the entire class and make sure that the differently abled student also follows the rules and has equal rights in classroom. Do not consider the child different from others just because of his physical disability. Never criticize the student for his disability. Even if students with special needs do not always have access to the same learning tools as their classmates, never let them feel inferior to others in the classroom.
2. Communicate frequently with the parents of differently abled children.
Communicating with parents of differently abled children is necessary because some parents think that no one values their child because of their challenges. First, know how the parent prefers to communicate and make them feel comfortable with your polite conversation. There are also some parents who feel embarrassed about having a child with special needs, in this case it is your responsibility to make them realize that having special needs is not the child’s mistake and as parents they should support the child. By being in contact with the parents regularly, you can not only share the concerns but also get parents’ support in helping their child in your ways.
3. Learn more about the specific disability faced by your student
Know about the disability of your student. You can contact the parents of the student or talk to his previous teachers and know more about the disability of the student. When you know more about the disability, about the child, his routine and how he deals with his disability, you can help the student to a greater extent. You can use new educational tools useful to the students with special needs.
4. Research and know more about the strengths and weaknesses of differently abled students
Know about the strengths and weaknesses of the differently abled children in your classroom. Know in which areas they excel and where they are lagging. Encourage them to use their strengths to improve themselves and help them change their weaknesses to strengths. Do not be overly polite to them because differently abled children misunderstand your politeness for pity and nobody likes to pitied as if they were lacking something. Differently abled children do not view their disability as a lack and neither should you.
5. Be involved in student activities and monitor their independent activities
Assign individual activities to the students in your classroom and monitor the activities of all students, so that the specially abled children know that they are being treated equally in their classroom. Always be there to help them with their activities. Strictly prohibit criticism of any form from any student in your classroom. Make sure that students do their activities independently. This helps the specially abled students boost their confidence and learn to do things independently.
6. Keep your instructions simple and declarative
When you have students who are audibly impaired in your classroom, it is important that you keep your instructions clear and understandable. Do not use complex language that confuses differently abled children. Keep it in mind and use simple and declarative instructions in your classroom.
7. Encourage the differently abled students to contact you for any help required
At times, the only support differently abled children need is moral support. They just need someone to share their concerns with. Let them know that they can contact you for any help required. Make them feel free to talk to you about their problems. This helps you know more about them and this in turn helps you to think from a different perspective. When you start seeing things from their perspective you can help your differently abled students more effectively.
8. Make lesson plans that encourage more student involvement
Usually, differently abled children do not participate much in classroom or cultural activities. The most common reason for this is that they experience inferiority complex, so to get them out of this make a lesson plan that encourages every student to participate in activities. When they participate frequently in classroom activities with other students in their classroom, it gives them confidence to face people in their daily lives.
Have you ever taught students with special needs? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them. Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments section below!