How to Help Your Special Needs Students Pick up Core Words Faster

Posted by Krystie Yeo on

Many special needs kids struggle with learning to speak from a young age, which can make the teaching process a challenge. It can feel like you're failing when the kids you teach don't seem to be handling the material you're teaching, especially with seemingly simple tasks like core words.

How can you teach your special needs students quickly and effectively?

Don't worry- there are plenty of methods that you can use to improve the way you teach and get your students learning faster! Here are some ways you can help your students understand core words.

What Is Core Vocabulary?

Core vocabulary makes up the building blocks of how we communicate. Words that we use every day are known as "core words", and they help to convey an array of needs, wants, and feelings. 

There are about 350 core words that we use 80% of the time! This makes learning these core words vital in order to communicate properly in the future. Nonverbal children, or those who have the limited verbal ability, can struggle to learn and use these core words effectively.

These words like "the", "it", "do", and "stop" are challenging for special needs students. It's important to dedicate plenty of time so that they are able to understand them and use them properly.

Ways to Teach Core Words Quickly

You may have a lot of words to go over, but don't worry. Here are a few of the ways that you can help your students learn core words and have fun doing so.

Give the Kids Access to Core Word Boards or Documents

Many children, especially children with special needs, struggle to learn things that they don't have regular access to. To combat this, you can provide all of your students with a word board with all of the words you are trying to teach along with a picture.

It's up to you how you want to create the boards. For a fun activity, you can have your students create their own boards and pair pictures with each word! Of course, you will need to help them through the process to make sure they get it right, but letting them do it on their own can help them learn as well.

Keep Content Flowing

You may be tempted to have your students practice and master one word before moving on to another. However, this will slow down the learning process and may frustrate your students.

Rather than waiting for them to figure out one word at a time, start mixing in more words once they have a good grasp of the previous word. That way, you can start combining the two words into new sentences, which may help them learn faster.

Give Plenty of Practice Opportunities

Time to teach and explain each word is important, but it's also crucial to give your students plenty of time to practice on their own. Let them share their new word knowledge with you and with each other so that they can learn to be independent when speaking. The practice will help their confidence in speaking as well, so encourage them to practice with each other whenever they can.

Because these words are used so frequently, they can be used in almost any situation, so there will be plenty of different ways you can practice and encourage them to practice on their own.

Include Fun Activities with Learning

Practice doesn't have to be boring or your students talking to you and each other; mix in games and fun activities to give your students something to look forward to when learning.

Certain core words are verbs that describe everyday activities. While discussing these words, have the kids act out the different words or play charades. This will encourage fun while they learn. 

Making puzzles can help them use directing words, such as "where" and "there". Put together puzzles with them and encourage them to use these sorts of words when working as a team. This will help them improve their team-building and vocabulary at the same time.

Music can also be a great way to teach core words! Ask your students to request that the music be turned down or up, or to skip certain songs to help them learn words.

There are plenty of different activities that you can choose from, so don't be afraid to experiment with other fun ideas!

Use Core Words of the Week

Having a few specific words that you want as your primary practice words each week is a great way to drill the words into the minds of your students. Keep them up on the board or somewhere in your classroom to make your students aware, and try to use them yourself. This way the kids will be able to understand the specific times that they should use the words.

Expect Lots of Questions and Offer Support

No matter how much practice time you give or how many games you play, your special needs students are going to need plenty of help.

Be patient with them and offer your support whenever they have questions. This is going to be a lot of information for them to take in, so give them encouragement to get through the lessons!

Fast, Fun, and Easy Learning

Core words are a huge part of our daily communication, so it's important to help your students learn them as fast as possible. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't make it fun! Follow these tips the next time you're teaching core vocabulary to get your students on the right track quickly.

How are you going to teach your students core words? What has worked for you in the past?

For more helpful information on teaching special needs students, continue reading our blog!

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