Creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment is something we all strive for, and as we begin the first term, we are here to highlight what you need to look out for in your SEND students. Effectively supporting children with SEND is an essential part of our job, especially since every four children in the classroom require support for special educational needs, Claire Watts. Getting to know your students during the first term is crucial to setting the stage for a successful academic year, and putting the correct support mechanism in place will ensure you can successfully support all your students.
Create a structured and Predictable Environment for your SEND Students:
Having classroom routines are a crucial, for both us teachers and our students. Supporting students to understand what they’re doing each day, and the expectation from lessons not only helps them to understand their subject better but also teaches the valuable lesson of self-management and organisation. However, for those with SEND, this is vital as the structured routines and predicable environments can ensure they transition into the classroom smoothly. They are also more likely to feel in control and have the ability to navigate their learning environment more effectively.
Here are some ways you can get to know your SEND students:
- Reduces anxiety and stress.
- Enhances focus and attention.
- Supports executive function skills.
- Improves independence.
- Promotes positive behaviour.
- Increases participation and engagement.
- Supports individualised learning.
- Builds a sense of belonging.
Communicate with Parents and Guardians:
Having effective communication with parents and guardians is a vital component to supporting your SEND students. Parents/guardians are a wealth of knowledge about their children, and this can complement your knowledge concerning a potential or identified need. Parents are your best source of support and information. Always be curious and don’t be afraid to ask the simple questions, most parents will appreciate your curiosity and passion to further understand their child. This is your opportunity to work as a team, which ensures the student receives consistent support both at school and at home.
Get to know your SEND students individually:
This can be beneficial for all types of students, but for those with SEND it can be vital. While it may require additional effort compared to their peers, observing, and establishing approaches to communication should be the first steps to ensuring that children with SEND feel connected and supported in your classroom.
- Ask them about their interests.
- Get to know if they have any preferences or specific needs.
- Observe their non-verbal cues and their body language.
- Seek feedback from support staff.
- Speak to parents/guardians.
- Provide regular feedback when possible.
- Support preverbal pupils through observation.
- Find time to support individual programs such as parallel play (Intensive interaction).
Foster a positive and inclusive classroom:
Having an inclusive classroom culture is so important to ensure all students can be supportive of one another. Teach your class about diversity and inclusion, celebrating the differences between everyone in your classroom. Peers will often be the best allies for SEND students, as the interactions with higher-level socially skilled peers provide students with SEND the relevant exposure that prompts them to imitate the skills and behaviours. Banda, Hart and Liu-Gits (2010).
Looking for SEND support? Book a call with Emma to find out how we can support you!
Understanding and supporting SEND students during the first term is a collaborative effort that requires patience, empathy, and dedication. Following our tips can be beneficial to creating a learning environment where all students have the opportunity to thrive and uniquely take their place.