If you combine all of the statistics for the special needs a child may have, the chances are almost 100% you will have at least one child with special learning needs in your classroom. One of the reasons Teach One Reach One relies on experiential learning (instead of worksheets and lectures) is that it allows more students to participate without having to adjust much for their learning differences.
Even if you use all of our resources, you will occasionally have one or more students who cannot easily participate in the activities and lessons as we have designed them. The temptation for many volunteers is to either deny the child access to the class or sit him to the side with nothing to do other than perhaps coloring. I understand adapting your class to include every child may take extra time on your part, but what better way to reflect God’s love to all of your students!
When you begin trying to adapt your lesson plans to include a child with special needs, there are a few things you can do to make your job a little easier:
- Talk with the child’s parents. They are used to advocating for their child and know him better than anyone else. They can tell you what he enjoys and what upsets him. They can help you understand how he learns and what keeps him from learning. I don’t believe I have ever met a parent of a child with special needs who wasn’t thrilled to help me understand their child’s needs more clearly.
- Get help from the experts. Just because a parent can help you understand their child, doesn’t necessarily mean they can counsel you on the best way to adapt your lesson for their child (some parents can though). Don’t be afraid to turn to the experts for help. I have found an excellent website full of resources that may help you. The Inclusive Church was designed to help churches develop classes that include all children. Many of their resources are free. You can also check Pinterest. In fact, I have started a special needs board filled with some of the best ideas and resources I can find.
- Ask your program director for extra help. Whether you need another volunteer or money to buy special materials, you need to ask your program director to give you some additional support. Although you may find she has nothing more to give, she may at least have some experience and can give you some personal help re-designing your lessons.
I know if you are new to teaching, having a child with special needs in your class may seem overwhelming. Taking a little extra time and effort though to include every child in your class, will reflect God’s love to your students and parents more than almost anything else you can do.