My friend recently told me her daughter has been going home lately complaining about a girl in her class who has learning disabilities. Her daughter gets home and unleashes a vast amount of negative emotions due to all the pent up frustrations she has throughout the school day concerning her workload. But more specifically there’s one girl in her class who seems to be getting frustrated every time she doesn’t understand the lesson. According to my friend, the child screams, yells, and acts out begging for immediate attention. Come to find out, she has learning disabilities.
Now, why is a child with special needs in a regular classroom, you ask? Well, according to the teacher, they are trying to assimilate the child with special needs in a regular education classroom for a multitude of reasons. One being that they are challenged as the bar is raised and goals are heightened in an attempt to help them to grow. Another reason being that they will have the opportunity to engage with the regular education kids to develop better social skills. As a teacher and a mother, this situation ignited a fire in me as I wanted to have a conversation, not only with my friend, but with my own child, as well.
Here are some important topics to discuss as you encourage your child to properly deal with having students who have special needs in their class:
Know that they have a disability and cannot help that they are different.
Kids need to understand that not everyone is going to be just like them. Some kids learn differently, act differently, socialize differently, and that’s ok. Kids with special needs or kids with learning disabilities add diversity to the classroom which paints a picture for a more “real life” setting.
Create an atmosphere of giving, acceptance, and patience.
This may be hard for the little ones to execute, but encouraging your child to exercise the will to give guidance instead of frustration will not only help the child in need, but will create leadership skills in your own child. The culture of the whole classroom would change if a little patience and acceptance was put in place.
Treat them like you would anyone else.
These kids want so badly to be accepted. They did not choose to have learning disabilities. It is hard enough for them to learn and fit in. Help and support them when possible without making them feel like they are different. Talk about a time your child could not master something as quickly as their other friends. If your child wants and expects patience and understanding from others, they should learn to give it as well.
Think outside of yourself.
Kids with special needs are put into a regular education classroom to grow academically and socially. It may be a tougher environment for these kids and it’s important for your child to know that the classroom environment is not all about them. Usually, classrooms act a whole. Teachers are being pushed to have students work in groups so they can learn to collaborate with different types of personalities. It’s no longer just about the individual. Include them just as you would like to be included as well.
You may even learn something from them.
Believe it or not, everyone is intelligent in one way or another. Just because a student with special needs may be academically low in certain areas, doesn’t mean they don’t have a gifted talent of some sort. Encourage your child to seek interest and to discover what it is about that child that makes them special.
If the child with special needs cannot adapt to the regular classroom environment in a positive manner after a given amount of time, the school officials will make the decision to put them back in a special education classroom or come up with a different plan to better serve the child. For the time being, if the regular education students in the classroom remained positive and supportive of their peers, chances are they will grow and flourish in ways unimaginable.