3 Tools to Help Special-Needs Students Thrive

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Learning is not a one-size-fits-all system. Students with physical, mental or learning disabilities often benefit from an unconventional approach to education. These three tools can help them get through each school day with a sense of achievement.

1. Rules and Rewards

Rules provide a necessary amount of structure to a child's day. Stating rules and expectations clearly and having a visual reminder of what those expectations are will help kids navigate their choices. Placing a colorful list of rules up at home or in the classroom can be really helpful. Pairing rules with rewards for good behavior is also a great motivational tool. It helps kids learn that actions have consequences and empower them to make good choices.

2. Tactile Tools

Though many classrooms cater to an auditory learning style, not all students thrive within that kind of environment. For kids with visual or auditory impairment or for kids who have trouble focusing on their schoolwork, getting through class can be even harder. Tactile games like braille mazes help kids with sight limitations build their spatial awareness. Similarly, using cheerios to practice addition and subtraction can help students improve their conceptual thinking in a more engaging way.

3. Visual Additions

Having photo flashcards that supplement storytelling or language acquisition exercises can help struggling students grasp new concepts at a quicker rate. Pairing a visual with each word or concept strengthens that connection between letters and meaning. It can help students create a memorable mental picture for the next time they have to recall that word's meaning, put together a sentence or write a story.
There are myriad tools, apps and exercises available to help kids with unique learning needs succeed in school. Getting kids up and moving, engaging them in activities and incorporating each kind of learning style can help create a more accessible environment both at school and at home.

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