Childhood education is the focus of every parent; after all, only a strong foundation can yield a successful future. Every child can develop to their fullest potential, and fostering this potential in childhood can guarantee a promising future.
Unfortunately, some developmental disabilities can create challenges that parents alone cannot help the child overcome. Problems like ADHD, learning disability, or other locomotor or psychological deficits can make it difficult for particular students to study in mainstream classrooms.
One way to help special children through this hurdle is to hire a special educator who helps the student out in the mainstream classroom environment. A special educator is a trained professional capable of handling kids with developmental problems.
A special educator can work with preschool children, children with visual impairments, physical disabilities, hearing problems, and intellectual problems, among other specializations.
Special educators play the following role in a child’s education:
1. Design an Individual Education Program (IEP)
An individual education program is needed when a particular student is identified, and a team of professionals decides to facilitate the child during their education. An IEP involves the student, the classroom teachers, the special educator, and the parents. Together, the team identifies the core deficits, outlines a strategy, works on the problem, and evaluates progress.
The only trained professional in the group is the special educator, so most of the strategic input is their responsibility. As a special educator, you would be required to study the child’s unique situation and develop learning strategies.
Courses that give ABA training for teachers equip them with evidence-based intervention strategies that can help the special child learn better in the usual classroom environment and benefit from mainstream education like other children do.
2. Collaborating with teachers
As a special educator, you play the role of a bridge between the child and the staff at the institute. Special education teachers are expected to collaborate with subject and class teachers, ensure the learning material provided is of the child’s standard and ability, and communicate needs to the regular teachers.
A special educator’s essential task is to help the teacher align learning material according to the child’s unique needs, from instruction to assessment. This step is crucial if consistency is to be maintained. Children can only benefit when they receive the necessary assistance every time, even if the special educator is absent.
3. Outline student intervention strategies
A special child may have a deficit in reading, mathematics, language, writing, or locomotor skills. A special educator works with similar children and their parents to improve these skills, whether in the classroom or otherwise. The core focus is catering to the unique needs of special children from other normal kids.
Reinforcement is one way a special educator can motivate the child to make an effort to improve these skills. Positive reinforcement, like rewarding with tangible, primary rewards like candy, during class can be used to encourage children to answer or solve questions.
Apart from educational skills, there are also several life skills that a special child might lack. Personal care, household tasks, socializing, community living, safety, self-confidence, and even leisure and play are areas a special educator addresses.
4. Providing support during class
Most student educators accompany the child during regular class lectures and help communicate the instruction more meaningfully. A student who is slow at comprehending might not be able to keep up with the regular teacher’s pace of instruction, but the special educator can help rephrase and reword the explanations.
Similarly, a special educator might have to help the child organize their work or assist them in reading or writing. In most cases, the special educator assists in designing flexible lessons, preparing assessment tasks, making worksheets, etc.
5. Communicating with families
Efforts to facilitate a special child are always three-way. Parents, professionals, and the child work in a collaborative environment; without every party fully involved, the best outcomes cannot be achieved.
The child should receive the same training at home and in school. Anything the professionals implement and the school makes the child practice, the parents have to ensure that it is reinforced at home. For instance, if the special educator makes the child follow a visual schedule at school, parents should not deviate from it at home.
The special educator must communicate the protocol with the parents, train them in the special techniques used, and help them implement them. Parents would also be expected to help the child with homework assignments, take them to therapy sessions, and foster their emotional needs. Parent involvement will help the child achieve better academic results and overall success.
6. Adapting the curriculum to meet the child’s needs
Inevitably, a special child’s pace cannot compare with a normal student’s performance at school. The educational goals for the special child must be tailored to their skill and should be achievable yet challenging. Special educators play a crucial role in designing such a curriculum.
No, the entire curriculum does not have to be different; a special child capable enough to study in a mainstream environment needs time to adapt. A special educator can facilitate the child’s education by altering the seating arrangement, using graphic equipment and visual aids, making text sizes more prominent and visible, using simpler language, etc.
7. Monitoring student performance
Once all the intervention strategies are in place, the next task is to monitor the child’s progress and ensure that the expected outcomes are achieved. At the start of the program, you must have outlined some goals and the approximate timeframe to achieve them.
Regular assessments allow you to monitor progress and ensure that the child achieves the expected milestones. This assessment doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal exam at the end of the training program. It can be as simple as frequently asking the child about their understanding of the concept. The strategy must be changed if that child cannot benefit from your approach.
Special education teaching is a particular skill you acquire through training and experience. This profession is one where you can get plenty of personal satisfaction by helping the disadvantaged student population.
Special educators play a crucial role in child education, collaborating with regular teachers and parents. Your contribution to the child’s development and education is indispensable. As a special educator, you would design IEPs, design student interventions, assist regular classes, adapt the curriculum, and assess progress over time.