By Vesna Bakota, teacher and principal
Children with learning disabilities need a great deal of encouragement, motivation, positive reinforcement and opportunities for success!
As a classroom teacher of EFL I have worked with many identified special needs children. At times it has been difficult, challenging and often daunting, but when a child turns to you at the end of a lesson and leaves your classroom with a smile from ear to ear you just know that you must be doing something right.
Having children with learning disabilities in the classroom is no easy task. A lot of planning, a variety of teaching strategies, appropriate support and structure is needed in order for the lesson to be successful. However, if you are a creative, caring, patient and resourceful teacher then the road to success with your class is on the right path.
Children with learning disabilities need a great deal of encouragement, motivation, positive reinforcement and opportunities for success. They often come from mainstream classrooms where they feel like a failure. These children tend to experience more setbacks, they face more challenges and obstacles than their peers. Improvement and success may come more slowly and less frequently, thus taking its toll on motivation and the will to persevere. Moreover, they often experience fear of failure, frustration, anger and lack of understanding.
So we who have been faced with having such children in our class have often asked ourselves; Where do I start from? What can I do to help these children? As a teacher and facilitator of learning I was once told by a very wise and experienced university professor, “Every child is good at something and it’s your job as a teacher to find out what that something is.”
All children with learning disabilities are capable of success. Each child will succeed according to his/her individual ability. We as teachers need to keep the following in mind;
- let each student know that you believe in him/her
- provide opportunities for success so as to build self-esteem
- focus on the level of effort throughout a task and not solely on the outcome or end product
- establish a pleasant and safe learning environment that encourages children to be actively involved in the process of learning.
Every child needs love, compassion, encouragement, and support. For children with learning disabilities such positive reinforcement and motivation can help assure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence and the determination and will to keep going when things get tough.