5 Tips on Working With Special Needs Children for New Teachers

Posted by Krystie Yeo on

Are you preparing for your first year as a special needs teacher? As with all teaching, teaching special needs children is both rewarding and challenging. When teaching special needs children, there are certain things you should keep in mind for success in the classroom. 

Make sure you're prepared by reviewing the following tips and implementing them into your classroom. 

1. Make an Environment That Encourages Learning

When teaching students with special needs, it is vital to create a positive classroom environment that encourages learning. You'll want to become aware of the student's emotional, social, physical, and intellectual needs.

This will help you to best figure out how you will organize the classroom and conduct class in a way that works around your students. It will help you to establish the classroom rules and your routine procedures. Thinking of each student as an individual with something to offer can make sure every student is getting the support and opportunity they deserve. 

While you want to consider your students individually, you also want to consider them as a group that will need to work together to promote a learning environment. This will help you to arrange your students seating in a way that will work best for collaboration. In some cases, arranging students by skill level can help to promote equal levels of teamwork. 

You'll also want to establish expectations from your students from the first day of school. Make sure that every student feels they have a responsibility to participate and know very clearly what is expected of them. Make sure that you manage the classroom time well, and take as much time as possible to devote towards learning. 

2. Organize and Plan Each Lesson 

Preparation is a must for a teacher who wants to create effective and engaging lesson plans that will benefit their students. With a special needs class, it is important to work with every student, which can only happen through preparation. Time management can help you to pack everything into a lesson that you hoped to while still spending time one on one with your students. 

Ideas like setting a timer can help you to stay on track and help you know when it's time to transition to the next topic or activity. Spending time before or after school to prepare for the upcoming lesson is a great way to get yourself ready. Make sure you focus on things like arranging supplies, preparing handouts, and writing instructions on the board before class so that you can spend your class time wisely. 

3. Use Effective Discipline 

Knowing how you will discipline students, and establishing these rules from day one is a must for avoiding behavioral issues. Explain your discipline plan to students and make sure that it is posted somewhere in the room for them to see.

You want your students to know that your classroom will be a positive environment. This means establishing rules against bullying and making the classroom a safe zone.

This is a step especially important for special needs children. Let your students know that everyone in the classroom is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them together.

Set up an environment where students trust you enough to ask questions or for any additional support. Let them know that your classroom is a place where they not only need to respect you, but one another, and everyone's specific needs.

Discipline issues will arise, and it's best to be prepared for them with a discipline plan. 

4. Encourage Helping Hands 

If your students are involved in responsibilities around the classroom, they are much more likely to become invested in your class. Having rotating classroom roles or jobs can be a great way to teach your students about responsibilities, and it can also help you with things around the classroom. Post signs or instructions telling your students what each responsibility entails. 

Tasks like handing out supplies or papers can help your special needs students feel included and helpful, which they may not feel in other situations. This is a great way to teach your students how to pitch in, and it can also help to boost their self-esteem.

5. Teach Your Students the Skills They Need for Success  

Especially in a special needs class, teaching your students the skills they need in order to succeed in your class is absolutely necessary. Skills like test-taking, problem-solving, and study techniques can help set a solid foundation for your students. It can also help to teach self-regulation skills, such as stress or anger management to avoid reoccurring issues in the classroom. 

Your students will have different skills that they struggle with, so spending one on one time with students on how to improve their skills in the needed areas can help. Having one-on-one meetings after class with students that are having issues can help to halt issues that may be occurring in the classroom. Helping a student to gain the skills they need to succeed in your class can be a much more long term solution to an issue than disciplining them. 

Tips for Working With Special Needs Children 

When first starting out as a teacher for special needs children, it's a good idea to keep these tips in mind. By having a plan and established rules, procedures, and lessons, you can make sure your class can run as smoothly as possible. Be prepared for your first year of teaching with these helpful tips!

Are you looking for teaching tools that can help to make your class more interactive? Head to our site to shop for some amazing options. 

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