Teaching literacy skills is an essential part of any curriculum, but it can be a particularly difficult challenge when teaching learners with special needs. To maximize effectiveness and increase student engagement, transforming traditional methods of instruction to utilize techniques such as phonics provides an exciting opportunity for success.
Phonics is a system of connecting sounds with letters and corresponding symbols, allowing students to break down language learning into smaller, more manageable chunks (Mertzentein, 2018). Additionally, research has shown that utilizing visuals such as sentence strips or flashcards during instruction also increases comprehension levels among nonverbal learners. This allows teachers to provide visual support without relying solely on verbal communication if needed.
Additionally, incorporating manipulatives into activities can help motivate students who may feel discouraged by traditional methods of teaching literature. According to Sarah Smith, a teacher specializing in special education: “At our school we’ve found amazing results by simply manipulating letters into words or sentences connected to everyday experiences for visual support. The goal is always to motivate our students without making them feel inadequate or discouraged."
Making learning activities engaging is essential when teaching any student, but especially those with special needs; when paired with traditional instruction techniques like phonics it can create extraordinary outcomes. Smith concluded her statement by saying: “When all components come together - structured visuals combined with sound-based instructions paired with hands-on experiences - the sky's the limit!”
Mertzentein, B. (2018). Instructional approaches necessary to teach children who are nonverbal. The International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 53(2), 266–276. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984