Choosing a Teaching Approach that Works Best for Your Child with Special Needs

Choosing a Teaching Approach that Works Best for Your Child with Special NeedsWelcome to Day 18 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.

When choosing a curriculum, parents sometimes don’t know what’s best for their child. I am often asked what the best program is for a specific diagnosis. Instead of best curricula, I always recommend looking at the teaching approach that works best for your child first. Then, find what publishers produce using this method.

Common Teaching Approaches

There are two main categories of teaching approaches: teacher-centered or student centered.

The teacher-centered approach often looks like the adult lecturing and the student absorbing information. In this form of direct instruction, the student is often passive in the learning process.

The student-centered approach involves the child while the adult takes on a role of guide or coach in the learning process. Under this method, you will find inquiry-based learning and cooperative learning.

Teaching Approaches Intended for Children with Special Needs

In the school system, these are the educational approaches you may encounter:

  • inclusion – child with special needs spends all or a portion of his day with students without special needs
  • resource – child in inclusive classrooms may be pulled out to work with a resource teacher in a different classroom for a short part of the day either alone or within a small group (sometimes, the resource teacher works with the child within the inclusive classroom)
  • self-contained classroom – children with special needs are in a classroom of their own with other children with special needs that may or not have the same diagnosis
  • special needs school – all children within this type of school have a variety of different needs

Alternative Approaches to Learning for a Child with Special Needs

As a student, I did very well in a school setting that was primarily teacher-centered. That’s because my learning style was a mix of auditory (listening to the teacher) and visual (taking notes). Luckily for me, in a teacher-centered environment, both theses styles are taught to the most.

Children with special needs often require the kinesthetic learning style in addition to developing multiple intelligences in order to thrive.

Through the ages, educational leaders and visionaries developed methods to teaching and providing therapy to a child with special needs that differed from the typical approaches described above.

Below I list some of the most influential alternative approaches. Some are schools, some are programs, most can be implemented within your homeschool:

What would you add to this list? Share your alternative approaches to teaching and learning on Facebook or Twitter.

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