Students with disabilities may require unique support when it comes to learning, socializing, and communicating. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans report learning or thinking differently than their peers, either due to ADHD, dyslexia, autism, or other disabilities. Despite an increase in research and understanding of children with disabilities, many parents and teachers still express serious concerns regarding their knowledge in addressing these students’ needs.
Oftentimes, classroom environments can be overwhelming for children with disabilities. Although there is a wide spectrum of difficulties that can take place at school, some commonly seen challenges include:
- Needing additional time to process new information
- Finding it difficult to sit still or focus
- Reading and writing slower than other students
- Having difficulty making or maintaining friendships
- Requiring extra resources to understand numbers and symbols
- Experiencing problems with classroom activities due to inaccessibility
- Being unable to see or hear class presentations
A student with a disability must overcome many everyday barriers in order to learn alongside their classmates. As a teacher, there are steps you can take to make your classroom more accommodating for these students with added learning hurdles. Keep reading to learn how to give these students the opportunity to learn to their fullest potential!
10 Ways to Make Your Classroom More Accommodating for Students with Disabilities
As a teacher, it may seem challenging to juggle disability accommodations with all of your other daily tasks. But, there are small, simple ways you can implement a more accessible learning environment for your students with disabilities!
- Stay organized
Maintaining a clean, organized classroom can help alleviate the distractions that students may encounter while trying to focus. Teachers can even implement fun organizational systems for students to participate in!
- Keep instructions simple
It can be difficult for any student to take in a lot of information at once, especially if that student has a learning disability. Giving simple directions can help everyone better understand and manage their learning experience. Try to break things down into smaller tasks—this will also make your students feel more accomplished at the end of the day!
- Educate yourself
If you are aware that one of your students’ has a disability, be sure to carefully read through their accommodations, modifications, and IEP, all of which are specifically designed to inform the teacher on how to help the student reach their individual goals.
- Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you’re feeling lost. It can be extremely beneficial for educators to talk amongst themselves and collaborate on finding solutions for their students’ needs. Lean on the students’ parents, case managers, therapists, and other teachers for help.
- Embrace each students’ uniqueness
Remind yourself that every student learns differently. Some children learn faster than others, some require visuals, and others may need a kinesthetic approach. No matter your students’ abilities, they will all learn at a different pace. Allow your students to explore their preferred learning methods!
- Create a structure for success
It’s important to create opportunities for your students to succeed—especially for those who tend to struggle with learning. Recognize and celebrate your students’ accomplishments and consider introducing rewards to help them stay motivated.
- Support Inclusivity
Instead of creating separate lesson plans for students with disabilities, consider how you can incorporate disability accommodations into your general class activities. This may even be an opportunity to educate all students about supporting and including peers with disabilities!
- Embrace peer mentoring
Whenever possible, partner students with disabilities with students who do not have disabilities. This partnership has the potential to teach social skills, independence, and problem solving to both students involved. The peer mentoring approach can help them learn from each other’s unique strengths and experiences!
- Practice patience
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Be patient with your students, but also with yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, but you will learn so much along the way!
- Be an advocate
Not only do you need to advocate for yourself as a teacher for the resources you require to be the best educator possible, but you also need to advocate for your students with special needs. Accessibility for your students is a right, not a privilege. For more information on how to be an advocate for your students, read our blog, 5 Actions to Become a Disability Advocate.
Covey: Committed to Care Beyond K-12
Covey is a non-profit organization, serving the adult disability community in Wisconsin’s greater Fox Valley. Committed to creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families, we have used our knowledge, compassion, and caring nature to help our participants achieve their highest potential!
Through our extensive experience, we understand how important it is for students with disabilities to be accommodated in the classroom. Advocacy for those with special needs is paramount for their learning development. At Covey, we work carefully and creatively with our participants to determine what environment and activities work best for their needs. We are flexible and accommodating—just like classrooms should be for children.
For more information about our programs and offerings, visit covey.org.