Many students in my classes feel terrible about having to attend my classes. Often I hear things like, “We are here because we are retarded.”
The students realize that the classes they need to participate in are not typical. They are often in them with students who have lower skills than they do, but they equate their skill levels with their peers in the class.
Because of this, Special Education teachers are often the most avoided teachers at the school.
So how do you prepare your student to be in a Special Education class? How do you make him or her feel good about having to be in the class?
There are a couple of things that I do to help students recognize that they are not alone when it comes to having a disability.
1) Google: Famous people with Disabilities and search for the disability your student has. You will find tremendous references to very accomplished and famous people who also had difficulties similar to the difficulties your student has in the school environment.
2) Tell your student the truth about education. The truth is that our educational system is set up to teach people how to work well in an office environment. It is set up to make people sit for eight hours, to do paperwork and to follow through with assignments that may be given by a boss. The truth is also, that not everyone in the world is meant to do that sort of thing. That your child has gifts and personality qualities that may make them perfectly suited to another type of work entirely. WE STILL NEED THEM! Mechanics, machinists, contractors, cooks, dancers, artists and others. Work with your child to help them discover who they really are and what they really want to do later.
3) Knowing the truth about education does not help when it comes to still being required to do the number of hours sitting in a desk that may be required by your student’s school. Your student will need skills and ideas to help them make it through the rigor. Carefully assess your own child’s ability to sit, to write, to read, to do mathematics and to apply themselves. In the areas they struggle, work with them at home to build the skills necessary for school. Parenting is hard work, but you have eighteen years to dig in and work hard for the reward of building a person capabilities to the highest possible scope.
I know the above does not apply to all parents of children with Special Education students.
I know some students will read at a second grade or less level all their lives, that they will not be mathematicians or cooks or bus drivers. I know some people have abilities that are mostly here to bless other lives. They give us the blessings of service and patience and boundless love. But even in that, they should be acknowledged and recognized.
They are gifts. Gifts that we cannot get any other way. And at the end of our lives, they are the greatest gifts we have ever had the privilege of receiving.