The first 5 lessons (case studies) in this series were very straightforward – a Scripture text and application questions. Today’s post is a 10 point checklist of tips for teachers: Working With Special Needs Students In A Bible Class.
This list of tips are attributed to Nickye Goslin Hamlet, a special education teacher in Tennessee.
1. Believe in yourself. You may have to step out of the box and try something you have never tried before.
2. Discuss the child’s disability and strengths and weaknesses with the parents. Parents of children with disabilities want their children to succeed and will appreciate you taking the time to know their child better.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having another adult in the room with you will ensure that all the children are engaged in learning God’s Word.
4. Research the child’s disability to understand all of its aspects. Take note that although two children may have the same disability, they can exhibit two entirely different sets of accompanying characteristics.
5. As much as possible, treat the child as you would any other child in your class. He or she does not need to be known as “that child with the disability”. A good rule of thumb is to think of the child as if he or she were yours and treat him or her as you would want your own child treated.
6. Expect the child to learn. The secret is realizing that everyone learns in different ways and at different rates.
7. Expect the child to behave. But take note that unusual behaviors can be manifestations of certain disorders (such as the following):
- Children with Tourette’s Syndrome may have vocal tics
- Children with autism sometimes scream or make noises
- Hearing-impaired children may make humming noises or speak loudly
- Children with developmental delays might flap their hands when they are excited, etc.
The best way to maintain appropriate behaviors is with structure and routine to your classroom. If children know what to expect and what is expected of them, they will be more on task and become less frustrated.
8. Find ways that the child can participate in your class. This is where your creativity will be most useful. Consider the child’s strengths when planning your activities.
9. Help the other children in your class to accept the child. If at all possible, talk to the other children about the child, explaining his or her disability and how they can help. Once you answer their questions, encourage them to include the child with special needs in their activities.
10. Be an encourager to the parents. Relate to them some of the good things that their child does in your class. From time to time, offer to have the child sit with you in church or to come over to your house so that the parents can have some quite time.