Children with special needs are at a disadvantage while continuing with their learning due to the pandemic. Distance learning is still quite challenging for many and it becomes more so for students with learning, attention or social-emotional needs.
Engagement is the key to success in distance learning combined with a teacher student relationship and students with special needs would need it a little more. The following three suggestions will boost engagement, connection and support for learners with special needs.
Put the relationship before academic rigor
Teachers are under stress to focus on academics and compliance of academic tasks, Children are under stress of social isolation and pandemic and stressed out minds do not learn well! You would need to first focus on your students social and emotional well-being and then they are more likely to catch up with work. Children with special needs will need a strong support system like caring parents or siblings or adults who can help then navigate through the challenges they are facing. Educators can also become a daily dose of buffering care for students with special students by connecting them with on a personal level. This will result in positive emotions and boost learning.
Get creative with accommodations and supports
Special children face difficulties with independent learning. They would need specialized instructions. Their task can be broken down into more manageable chunks. Visual aid and frequent check-ins can be done to ensure they are on the right track. Provide online spaces to children when they are stressed out.
Build out a team of support with other educators, staff and especially with their parents for students with special needs. You can also seek guidance from your school psychologist to suggest innovative ideas to ensure that they feel connected, engaged and supported.