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5 of the Most Effective SEN Teaching Methodologies

As an educator, it is your everyday task to make sure your classroom is a safe place where students can learn. How can you achieve this with students with special needs? Well, first of all, there is no single method that works for every student. So, it is essential that you are communicating with your students to find out what works best for them. It also is extremely helpful to know what disabilities your students have and learn about them. While this article aims to help you find which methods work best for you and your students, you should not stop your research here!

First, let’s quickly review some disabilities and how they might affect your students’ education. There are learning disabilities, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. Students with ADHD often struggle with time management and staying on task. Students with dyslexia have some difficulty reading, so they often have trouble with spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. While students with autism often struggle with reading, social cues, and communication. 

Because learning disabilities are so varied, students have different ways that they learn best.  However, these are some teaching methodologies that are proven effective for student with learning disabilities.

  1. Verbal instructions
    1. Stand in the same place when you give instructions. This way, students can recognize and prepare to receive the instructions.
    2. Try to keep your instructions brief, so students are more likely to remember your concepts.
    3. Ask your students to repeat the instructions to you and their classmate sitting next to them.
    4. Verbal instructions can be very helpful for students with dyslexia. While for students with ADHD, you should pair your verbal instructions with written ones.
  2. Written instructions
    1. Write the key important steps for the lesson on the board.
    2. Give clear instructions for homework and try to avoid giving them at the end of the class period. 
    3. Write when the homework is due on the board.
  3. Worksheets
    1. The font size on a worksheet should be a minimum of 12 or 14 with a 1.5 line spacing.
    2. Use a dyslexia-friendly font such as Arial or Calibri.
    3. Put important phrases in bold, but do not go overboard.
    4. Avoid using long paragraphs.  Put important information or steps in a list, so they are easy to read and understand.
    5. Always leave enough space for students to write their answers.
  4. Time management
    1. Give students a warning about upcoming questions. For example: “In a minute, I’m going to ask you …” Especially use this format for questions that are more in-depth and require more time to think about.  
    2. Make sure to give students plenty of thinking time after you ask a question.
  5. Praise
    1. Praise may be more effective in private sessions with your student.
    2. When giving praise, tell your student exactly what they did right. For example, “Nice job! You recognized that something didn’t sound right, so you went back and self-corrected.”
    3. You can also give unobtrusive signals to your students, such as a thumbs up or a nod.

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