Child to special education, practice
Your child has received advice / indication for special education, or you are wondering whether your child might be more at home in special education. As a parent it is nice to know what the working method is and what the classes look like or are organized, for example. For example, it can prepare yourself and your child for what is to come or help you make an informed choice for your child. Not everything will be different from regular education, but a number of things are often typical of special education.
- Entry of children / start of school day
- Layout of the classroom
- School therapies
- Activities in special education
- Working method / vision of special education
- Group size
- Atmosphere in the school
Entry of children / start of school day
Unlike in regular education, the children often come to school by taxi, often these are taxi buses. The reason for this is that it is often not possible for the children to come to school independently. For example, your child is unable to cycle independently to school or travel by public transport because he is in a wheelchair. Because there are fewer schools for special education, the schools are usually not around the corner. The municipality decides whether your child is entitled to bus transport. If possible, as a parent you can of course also choose to bring your child to school yourself.
When your child arrives at school, school staff will be waiting for the children at the entrance. If necessary, your child will be taken to class, depending on the abilities and age of your child and will be determined in consultation with the parents. In any case, there are employees outside, often class assistants who ensure that the children get off the bus safely.
Layout of the classroom
The classrooms are designed in such a way that there is little distraction, also called low-stimulus. This doesn’t mean it has to be boring locally. There are classes where just works hang on the wall, only it is a bit more ordered and dosed.
In the classroom there is a picto board on the wall, on this board it is indicated with text and / or pictures (pictos) what the program of the day is, often also with a clock so that it is clear what time the next activity is begins. When the activity is finished, the picto is removed. Because pictos are used in addition to text, it is also clear to children who can read less well and / or need visual support what the day looks like. The pictos used in the classes are used throughout the school. Otherwise, the pictos could only cause confusion. The same sign also states with pictos whether your child has therapy.
Personal picto board
Some children need their own picto board, for example because they have a (partially) alternative program or need more supportive pictos. The pictograms are attached with Velcro to your child’s table or his personal workplace. By removing the pictograms when the activity has been completed, it is also visually clear to the child that the activity has been completed. So that the transition to the next activity becomes easier.
TEACCH cabinets / personal workplace
Some children need a place for themselves, for example because they are easily distracted or have a greater need for structure. TEACCH cabinets are used for this in the classroom. These are two cabinets that are pushed against the sides of a table. These cupboards contain the works for your child. The table is placed against a wall, creating a small personal space where your child can work undisturbed and in a fixed order, which can provide a lot of clarity. Personal pictograms are attached to the TEACCH cabinets if your child needs them. There are also sound-absorbing headphones available. The TEACCH cabinets are derived from the TEACCH method, this method was originally developed for children with autism. In practice, the TEACCH cabinets are sometimes also used for students who are sensitive to stimuli and are, for example, easily distracted, such as children with ADHD.
Many special education schools have partnerships with different therapists such as speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. The reason for this is that in this way children have to miss as little lessons as possible and that it is easy to consult with the teaching staff. The therapists are present in the school. The therapy your child receives can be individual or classroom.
The therapist in question will collect the child from the classroom and take it to the practice room. When the therapy is over, the therapist returns the child to the classroom. In this way, as little class time as possible is missed, because there is no travel time.
Classroom therapies are used for the entire class or a group of children in the class. In that case, the therapist is not there specifically for one child. The therapists are often used for handicrafts, gymnastics, writing and language. For example, if a child has a disability, it can be difficult to color or write. The therapist watches and helps during the lesson and devises solutions and adjustments so that the child can develop and participate as well as possible.
Activities in special education
Of course no day is the same and no school is exactly the same, but there are a number of regular activities that take place at most schools for special education. Some activities and lessons will not differ much from regular education, but for example a (small) adjustment has been made so that the child can still participate in the lesson and can develop further.
Organization of the lessons
The lessons depend on the age or level of the children. The group is regularly divided in order to provide as much individual guidance as possible and to take into account the different levels of the children. After instruction from the teacher, the teaching assistant then supervises, for example, a group of students.
The children work at their own table or TEACCH place, the assignments they do now are different for each child. Each child works at their own level or on personal goals through assignments that the teacher has prepared. The teacher visits the children to give instructions or help. Every student has a personal development plan.
Joint start of the school day
The program of the day is discussed with the children by means of the picto board. It is also stated who has therapy at what time. Depending on the age and level of the children, you can start with a song or discussing the youth news or a group discussion.
The children stay at school during lunch, the reason for this is that the travel time home is too long for most children. During the remainder, children who need help with food are helped by the teaching assistant. The children bring their own lunch to school. Lunch lasts an average of half an hour and there is played outside for half an hour under supervision.
Children who need help with grooming / toilet moments are helped by the teaching assistant. Wheelchair toilets and aids such as hoists, stretchers and post chairs are available. In principle, there are three toilet moments during the breaks. But if, for example, a child is physically unable to wait for the breaks, exceptions are made. A nurse is present in the school for specialized medical care.
Moments of rest
Some pupils have a greater need for rest due to, for example, a physical disability or illness. Rest moments are then scheduled in between. The child can then, for example, rest in a beanbag in the classroom. As a result, students who are recovering from an operation, for example, can also participate in the lessons more quickly.
Many schools for special education have a special rest room, also called the snoezel room. In this room there is a (water) bed and the lights can be dimmed. There are also often options for listening to music. Often there are additional lamps for mood lighting, for example in the form of a starry sky. The snoezel room aims to develop / activate the senses of children with a (severe) intellectual disability in a safe and restful space.
Working method / vision of special education
In special education people are used to thinking in terms of solutions and not impossibilities. There may be a limitation or disability, but the aim is always to make the most of the child’s possibilities. Is something not working (yet)? Then solutions are devised in collaboration with the teacher, teaching assistant, therapist, parents and, if possible, together with the child.
The group size of the classes is on average between 10 and 18 students. This can be a little more or a little less. For example, there are groups of eight students, these children are in smaller groups because they need more individual guidance and / or care. In most classes there is one teaching assistant and one teacher, so there is a lot of room for individual guidance.
Atmosphere in the school
Children with disabilities who are still seen as ‘different’ in mainstream education often notice that this is much less the case in special education. All children have their own possibilities and limitations, which means that acceptance and understanding among themselves is faster. This creates a safe environment for your child, an important condition for optimal development as a child.