Teaching special needs children can be difficult, there’s no denying that. But finding the right special education programs for kids can make all the difference in their development and behavior, whether they’re dealing with mild learning differences, severe autism, or anything in between.
How can you, as a parent, find the best schools for children with special needs? Here are some things to look for as you check out prospective schools:
- Highly Qualified Teachers
Naturally, the people who matter most when it comes to teaching special needs children are the teachers. A combination of training in special education and experience is what gives teachers the ability to support special needs kids — and since there are very few regulations regarding who is allowed to teach (especially at private schools) you’ll want to make sure the school you’re investigating has a rigorous hiring process.
- Understanding Administrators
Though teachers are actually the ones spending time in the classroom with students, administrators have quite a bit of influence over the entire school environment and are ultimately the ones responsible for implementing a good education program for your child. It’s important that when you visit schools, you get the chance to sit down with at least one high-level administrator and get a sense of his or her philosophy regarding working with special needs.
- Good Support Resources
Education isn’t all you need to worry about. Special needs children often have more medical and nutritional concerns than other types of students, so it’s important that any school you consider have a nurse and some nutritional experts on staff.
- A Fun and Pleasant Environment
Special needs children can take on big challenges in their schoolwork, just like other children, but a supportive and comfortable environment — someplace that’s inviting, rather than threatening — can help them to take on those challenges more successfully. It’s extremely important that children who are already facing difficulties feel safe in their classrooms.
- Good Discipline Policies
Even children with learning disabilities need discipline and structure; however, discipline methods can backfire very seriously if not correctly implemented. You should always be clear on a school’s discipline policy before enrolling your child. And if the school serves both mainstream and special needs children, it’s also good to get an idea of how interaction between those groups is handled, and what the school’s policy on bullying is.
What other insight can you offer on teaching special needs children or finding the best schools where they can thrive? Discuss in the comments.