Educating children is a tough enough job without throwing disabilities into the mix!
Often, teachers are very intimidated by the prospect of taking on a student with special needs; without the right knowledge, understanding and foresight, teaching a student with special needs can certainly be an incredibly difficult job.
However, if you are properly prepared, teaching a child with a disability – watching them grow, develop, achieve their goals, and surpass everyone’s wildest expectations – can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life!
As with anything in life, the key to success is proper preparation!
3 Crucial Tips for Teaching Students with Cerebral Palsy
1. Understand your student’s specific disability traits
Whether living with a disability or not, every child is different. Just because your student has cerebral palsy doesn’t mean they will be anything like any other child with cerebral palsy.
Make an effort to specifically understand your student’s disability. For example, if your student has particular difficulties with mathematics (dyscalculia), be sure to take some extra time to ensure that they understand each new mathematical concept as it is taught.
When it comes to class participation, be careful what you call on your student for. If you call on your student to answer a question that is beyond their current depth, this will put an unnecessary amount of stress on them. If, however, you ask your student a question that they can answer confidently, you will give them a great experience and a significant self-esteem boost.
With this knowledge, you will better be able to incorporate the student into your teaching activities and allow them to participate, increasing their confidence, self-esteem, and sense of independence.
2. Ensure that students with special needs aren’t treated differently
If you are teaching a classful of children and intend to incorporate a child with a disability into that class, make sure that your current students understand that a child with special needs should not be treated as different.
Studies consistently show that kids with special needs are bullied more often. Make it clear that this is absolutely not tolerated. Children with special needs simply want to feel normal and welcomed, so the best thing you and your students can do is simply talk to and include them just like anyone else.
3. Educate children about their classmate’s disability
The more your students understand the nature of their classmate’s disability, the better they will feel like they know their classmate. In turn, they will be much more likely to treat them as a regular peer and incorporate them into their social activities without any strangeness or awkwardness. The more we can educate each other about how to treat, include and care for individuals with special needs, the more attitudes and mindsets will change for the benefit of all involved.
Disability Support Resources for Teachers
Teaching strategies for students with cerebral palsy
General information about cerebral palsy
Foundation dedicated to funding research and educational activities related to cerebral palsy