The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that promotes quality education among children with disabilities. Apart from ensuring free appropriate public education to eligible children, the law also takes care of special education and related services to special children. Moreover, IDEA also governs how different state and public agencies look after the needs of children with disabilities. According to the school year 2018-19, 7.5 million toddlers, infants, children, and youths fall into the specially-abled category. Therefore, taking special care of their needs is vital. In addition to looking after the special educational needs of disabled children, this law also takes care of the grants offered to children with disabilities.
Additionally, IDEA authorizes:
- Formula grants to states with the aim of supporting special education and related services
- Discretionary grants to state educational agencies and higher education providers to support research, demonstration, technical assistance and dissemination, and parent information.
The purpose of this law is to:
- Ensure each child with disabilities has access to proper education facilities and related services. Moreover, the services must be designed to meet their unique needs and give them suitable training to become employable.
- Ensure the rights of children with disabilities are protected. Moreover, it also takes care of the rights of the parents of such children.
- Assist different state and central agencies in protecting the educational rights of children with disabilities.
- Assist states in the establishment of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
- Ensure educators and parents of such children have the necessary tools or equipment to improve their learning experiences of children.
How to Support Children with Disabilities?
According to a report published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five children has a learning or attention disability that affects their ability to use their maximum potential and learn to the fullest in a classroom setting. However, this hurdle can be overcome by extending support to students and developing a different perspective when guiding them. Some of the teaching strategies that educators can follow are:
Lean on Others
Creating a robust network with other stakeholders is required when teachers want to give their best shot while training students with disabilities. They should collaborate with the entire team, including case managers, therapists, teachers, students, and parents. The need to lean on others becomes even more crucial in online learning scenarios. As teachers cannot assess students’ performance daily in an online mode, they must take help from other stakeholders to provide a nurturing environment to students.
Children with disabilities may find it difficult to concentrate on their studies and give full attention to the lectures. In such scenarios, maintaining a calm and organized environment in the classroom may work in their favor. Creating an organized classroom with minimal distractions will help them focus more on what their teachers are saying.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Different sets of rules and modifications can help teachers provide an enhanced learning experience to students with disabilities. Educators should read through these recommendations to understand the needs of such students. Moreover, these guidelines give teachers a kickstart and help them develop clear teaching goals.
Understand the Needs of Every Student
Every student learns differently, and teachers need to identify this unique need of their students. They can use audio and visual aids to understand what learning method helps their students learn fast. Teachers should allow their students the flexibility to explore different opportunities and subjects.
Keep Instructions Simple
Children with disabilities may find it difficult to take too much information at a time. Therefore, teachers can break the details into smaller chunks to make the task manageable for their students. Moreover, teachers should arrange the information in a way that helps their students think that they are accomplishing tasks throughout the day.
Teachers attending to the special needs of students must allow themselves room to prepare before every lecture. They should understand the content and present them to students in an easily understandable format. According to experts, having a reasonable classroom size and time for preparation and documentation is essential when teaching students with special needs.
Create Opportunities for Students & Help Them Succeed
Children with special needs may feel like they need to struggle a lot to achieve success. Therefore, teachers should try to create opportunities for such students to succeed. Moreover, educators should celebrate the accomplishments of their students and introduce rewards and recognitions in the curriculum to keep them motivated.
Don’t Take the Pressure
Both teachers and students should not take pressure when learning new things. They may make mistakes on their way, but learning from such mistakes will help them grow and turn into a dynamic professional.
Teaching Tips and Strategies
Taking care of the concerns of students is vital if educators want to provide the best learning experiences. Some teaching tips that may help them when tutoring children with special needs are:
Set a Tone from the Beginning
Educators should create a long-lasting impression on their students from the beginning. Their actions should convey the fact that the class values each student and works through teamwork. Every student in the classroom should help their peers. Teachers should develop a helpful and caring environment within the classroom to make each student feel worthy.
Support Students in Their Learning Journey
Educators must focus on the learning journey of their students, and to provide them with a seamless experience, teachers can use a mix of different strategies. For example, they can use scaffolding, appropriate prompting, and learning materials that suit the levels and needs of their students. This ensures that the students will learn and succeed according to their pace.
Structure Lesson Plans That Support Inclusivity
Educators may set time aside from their daily activities to develop unique plans for children with disabilities. However, this may not be the right approach. Instead of creating a separate lesson plan, teachers should focus on creating a general strategy that includes disability services. This way, they can educate all learners about disabilities through the voice of learners who experience such issues.
Establish Clear Communication with Parents & Students
To understand the needs of students with special needs, educators must establish a clear communication line with their parents. Talking to parents will help them understand the learning process of students. They will be able to know what steps they need to take to provide an unmatched learning experience to kids. Moreover, teachers should also communicate their expectations from a course. Their students should know the educator’s expectations in terms of assignments and deadlines.
Partner Children with Disabilities with Their Peers
Teachers can pair students with disabilities with students who do not have disabilities. It will help both sets of students to learn from each other. Students who do not have disabilities will learn empathy and may develop their emotional quotient when working with children with disabilities. Moreover, peer mentoring will help students develop their social skills and problem-solving abilities.
Help All Students Take the Same Assignment
If educators provide different assignments to different sets of students, learners may feel that their teacher does not think they are capable of succeeding. Therefore, educators must give the same set of assignments but, at the same time, provide leeway to students with disabilities to work towards the goals independently.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) works to brighten the future of children with disabilities. In the past few years, this law has made education accessible to such students. Classrooms have become more inclusive, and steps have been taken to protect the rights of students with disabilities. IDEA has shown positive results in improving the educational outcomes for children with disabilities.
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