How Classrooms Can be Adapted for Children with Special Needs
Classrooms are usually decorated in a way that reflects the environment a teacher wishes to create and what they want to instil in their classrooms. Most often than not, these include brightly coloured aides, comfortable furniture and, in the case with younger students, toys and playthings that suit most students. However, teachers must go an extra mile when their students include children with special needs.
First of all, one must remember that students with special needs are no different than any other student. Just like each child has their own temperament and needs, so do they. The teacher simply has to create an environment that incorporates the children’s needs in a way that helps them improve their participation in the classroom. Students with special needs can include students with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), any learning disability or a physical disability or autism. Making these small adjustments in a learning space can go a long way for the child’s participation in a classroom and allows the instructor to utilize a holistic approach to teaching, enabling them to gain in-depth understanding of their students, their needs and requirements and their environment.
Here are some of the ways you can adapt IN your classrooms for more participation:
- Rearranging seats in accordance with the needs of an individual child is a great way to support children with disabilities. For example, for students with a visual or hearing impairment, you can have them sit near you and the board for better clarity. A child with a learning disability may be seated closer to their friend and peers so that they can help them with their work.
- A child with ADHD can be seated in a quiet spot of the classroom and given a separate playing area in order to help them relax and concentrate.
- Limiting visual clutter on walls can help reduce distractions for children with autism and ADHD.
- Likewise, adjusting the lighting and noise levels in a classroom can help children with autism or visual and hearing impairment. You can also play soft music or white noise throughout the day in order to help with auditory stimulation.
- Rearranging the furniture can also make moving around really easy. For example, removing rugs or any form of floor settings, lowering desks and utilising slant boards can make movement and writing easier for students with a physical disability.
- Using pegs to secure doors, lowering shelves for backpacks and using padding to soften desk and rack edges can make movement for children safer and convenient.
There are many others ways one can adapt the physical environment of the learning space for the ease of their students. However, in order to make effective changes, it is important that other than learning about disabilities through literary texts, the teacher makes the extra effort of carrying out their own research. Talking with experts and other special educators will allow you to discuss any difficulties and solutions you may have when interacting with students. In fact, meeting with the student’s counsellors and parents may be the best approach since they are the best source to help you better understand your students. Moreover, interacting with them before and after making these changes will allow you to discuss the effectiveness of your applied methods on the child’s participation and help you track their progress both inside, and outside of the classroom.
Lastly, every instructor must remember that focusing on understanding their students better and helping them to integrate and participate with their peers and environment not only helps them in a classroom, but also instils the ability to understand and respect an individual’s need amongst other students as well.