Special Education teachers' work is hard and complicated because it is extremely challenging to help students with special needs overcome all difficulties in studying and achieve significant results.
This job requires not only skills but also a range of specialized equipment. Here is a list of 10 most necessary items for Special Education teachers.
1. Fidgets, Wiggle Seats, Therapy balls, Therapy bands
The importance of fidgets, wiggle seats, therapy bands and balls is difficult to overestimate. These items give students an opportunity to make some exercises for their sensory system, so that they can easier focus on studies.
2. Highlighter Strips/Reader Trackers
Many students with learning disabilities are not able to focus their attention on text and often skip lines. Reader trackers and highlighter strips improve the situation greatly.
Students like using them and, what is more, with these strips and trackers children with learning disabilities get to know how to read properly and stay focused while reading.
3. Shaving cream, Sand, Rice
Some teachers involve student's tactile sense for more effective understanding and memorizing of different rules. For example, students can learn the numbers formation in sand, look for hidden words in rice and develop their spelling skills in shaving cream. It is not only an effective method of teaching but it improves fine motor skills, as well.
Timers have a wide range of uses in Special Education.
First of all, they help students get ready for transition and changes in their lives connected with it. They can visually estimate how much time they have for a certain task.
Also, timers can be used for reading tests – you can get to know how many words per minute each student reads and estimate their progress.
If you have foam dices in your class, students can use them to see how many math problems they can solve during a certain period of time (For example, one minute). Children like it much more than usual math tests.
Visual supports are extremely important for children with special needs. In many cases visuals play a key role in preparing students for further mainstreaming into general education classrooms.
The usage of hands-on manipulatives in studying is crucial for all students. Such kind of equipment helps students realize the correspondence between abstract concepts and concrete things. Children can easier understand and memorise the way they thought and, for instance, apply this knowledge to solve mathematical problems.
7. Posted Rules/Expectations
This piece of advice would be useful not only for students with special needs but for all students. Teachers should have a system of rules and expectations in a visual form posted in their classroom, because students should always know what exactly is expected of them. It is recommended to place posted rules on a viewable place so that the students can see them all the time and the teacher can refer to them during the educational process.
8. Reward System
A very useful idea how to encourage students to follow the rules of behaviour is to establish a reward system. Teachers can use some small items (like stickers, tokens or something similar to it) and give them to students for good behaviour. Once the student collects a certain amount of these items, he or she can choose a "prize". They can use the small items as money and "buy" whatever they want from a prize box when they earn enough "money". The prizes don't have to be expensive – you can purchase some small toys for this purpose.
9. High Interest – Low Level Reading Books
There are many companies that sell the so-called Hi-Lo books. For example, such books can be readable enough even for 1st graders but with plots that can be interesting for a 4th grader. These books are the best literature for students with special needs who have problems with reading.
All students always show great enthusiasm when they have a chance to work with any modern technologies. Fortunately, nowadays there is a wide variety of special education apps both for computers and tablets, which can replace tasks and tests in usual form.
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