Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) provide legal rights and support for students with disabilities in school. If a child qualifies for special needs services, a team of school faculty, administrators, parents, psychologists or pediatricians will meet to come up with the best strategies and accommodations in order to help the child with special needs meet necessary academic and behavioral goals. The student’s teacher can offer many educational options and suggestions for the struggling student.
Basically, a child with a learning disability or attention deficit disorder may respond better to an alternative way of learning. A teacher may want to try her hand at a new teaching method or parents may consider changing a student’s environment in order to better match their child’s personality and learning style.
Classroom Options for Kids With Special Needs
Teachers in an inclusive classroom setting, or special education teachers with struggling students may want to change the structure of their classroom to better meet all students’ needs. An effective classroom design is an important way to help students having trouble with academics. Structure and organization are vital for all students, as well as clear rules, clearly posted steps, work centers, and thoughtful seating arrangements.
Remember that things can be changed if they are not working, but a warning to students that there will be a structure or seating change coming in the near future will highly benefit those students who have trouble with transitions and adaptation.
Tutors and Teacher Aides in the Classroom
Teachers may appeal to the IEP team of a student who continues to struggle in the classroom, and request a part time or full time aide for the child. A paraprofessional (aide) can monitor and provide support to the student, giving the immediate feedback necessary for kids with ADD and other disorders. An aide can keep a child with special needs on track with behavior, as well as provide special attention to academic areas of struggle.
The classroom teacher may also want to suggest to parents that an at-home tutor may help the student retain newly learned skills outside the classroom, as well as keep a child on task with homework. Tutors are not always cheap, but if approved as a necessary measure to achieve IEP goals, the school district may be able to provide one.
A summer tutor should be a consideration for parents as well, because kids with special needs who are behind in school often lose more of their learned academic skills during their extended time away from the classroom. Tutors and aides will be great assets for young students in particular, as other kids at that age will not stigmatize the child who needs extra help.
Transferring a Struggling Student Out of the Classroom
Some kids who continue to struggle academically at school, or who persistently fall behind their classmates may need to attend a private school where more individualized attention can be provided, or may require more time in a special education classroom more geared toward the needs of a child with disabilities. Private schools are unfortunately not an affordable option for all parents, but for others it may be a worthwhile sacrifice.
In a special needs classroom, kids may receive support for sensory issues, and extra help with work. It may be that the child simply needs to increase the time he spends in the special classroom, but can return to his regular classroom for most of the day. Again, in the younger grades, kids will not even realize that these small absences are anything significant, but the extra support for the child with disabilities will be.
It is possible that a student may respond more positively to a different teacher and teaching style, even if that teacher is not a special needs teacher. It may be that parents, especially those that cannot afford a change to a private school, might want to consider asking that their struggling child be moved to a different class, if the current one does not seem to be working for him.
It will help struggling students with special needs if teachers and parents try out alternative ways of learning and various educational options. Tutors, teacher aides, classroom structure, goal setting and even transfers out of the classroom may all be effective ways to help the struggling student to better perform in school, both academically and behaviorally.