Every Child is Special: How to Adapt a Lesson to Children with Disabilities

"In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers blossom at their feet" - Albert Schweitzer

A mediocre teacher teaches lessons while a best teacher teaches people. Teaching for understanding can be sometimes very challenging for teachers who are mentoring children with special needs and disabilities. There may be times that you spent sleepless nights pondering, going through your lesson plans and searching for ways to to help those little angels learn. Teaching special children needs a lot of attention, love and patience. Here are some ways how to adapt your lesson materials to children with special needs:

1. Simplify Classroom Materials


In order to teach more effectively, consider simplifying your lesson materials so it will not be too heavy for your students. Focus on key phrases or words instead of discussing whole paragraphs or chapters. 

2. Use Different Methods of Communication


Special children learn more by experiencing and seeing things. Consider singing a song that relates to your lesson. You can also use pictures to illustrate your points. If the situation permits, you can also play some games. 

3. Adjust the Difficulty of a Task


Use questions that everyone can answer. Don't forget to praise them too! Children will most likely participate in future activities when they feel that their responses are valued. Doing so will also help boost their confidence. 

4. Focus on Your Student's Abilities


Although it is important to understand the nature of your student's disabilities, it is more important to focus on their abilities. As you do this, other students in your class will also benefit and grow. Make sure to have a clear goal in mind while preparing your lessons and identify the principles that will benefit them more. 

5. Invite Everyone to Participate


Even children with disabilities can participate in the classroom. Encourage them to do simple things like distributing handouts. Activities  like this will help them feel "at home" and increase their self confidence. 

6. Help Students Connect New Ideas to Things that They already Understand


If a student has interest in sports, you can use an analogy to connect this to the principles you are teaching. 

7. Prepare a Student Beforehand to help them Participate Fully in the Class


Provide an outline of the lesson you are going to teach next meeting and distribute them to the class. You can also provide copies of this outline to parents so they can assist their children at home. 

8. Make Adaptations Without Singling out a Student in Front of the Class


Encourage group discussions and peer-to-peer learning. You can also ask students to write their thoughts on paper instead of discussing it alone in front of everyone.




*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.


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