There are many challenges that special needs children face when growing up. Many of these challenges can be overcome with a little guidance from those around them and their peers. In fact, peer interaction is known to help create cognitive development, social skills, reduce anxiety and stress, improve self-esteem and provide additional learning opportunities.
This all sounds great you say to yourself BUT how do I promote peer interaction in my classroom? How do I teach my students to interact with their peers properly? The following steps will ensure your students are able to learn proper behavior around their peers which will positively affect the way they treat each other as well as themselves.
1. Pair up students who are more social with students who are quieter.
One of the most important things you can do to promote peer compatibility in your classroom for special needs students is pairing up students who are more social with students who are quieter. If a student is more outgoing and likes to talk, it’s not going to help him or her to be paired with someone who never says anything at all. It would be better for that student to be paired with someone who tends to keep their own counsel but is still willing to listen.
By doing this, you’ll be able to give each student the chance they deserve while also allowing them the opportunity to learn how best to interact with others. This will help them feel comfortable when they’re out in the real world, where they’re likely going to be interacting with people they don’t know very well, if any at all!
2. Remove anything that may be distracting to the children.
When you are trying to teach a class of special needs children, it is important that you remove anything that may be distracting to them. This can include any loud noises and even the color of your walls. Many of these children have sensory issues and will have trouble focusing on their lessons if there are too many things vying for their attention.
You should also change up your teaching style a bit in order to make sure that the students are engaged with what is going on in class. This means moving around more and using visual aids like posters and pictures instead of just relying on words to get your point across.
3. Have the kids do an activity together so they realize their interests in common.
Even if some of the interests are similar and others are different, it’s important to find a common ground for your students. This can be done by having them do an activity together that involves all of them and gives them a chance to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
It’s important for them to realize their interests overlap, so they don’t feel like they’re being forced into situations that make them uncomfortable.
For example, if you were working with a group of children who were all interested in animals and nature, you could have them do an activity where they had to research how different animals live in the wild or how different plants grow from seeds. The kids would get a chance to explore their own interests while also learning about each other’s interests through their research!
4. Eat lunch together as much as possible.
Eat lunch together as much as possible.
Lunch time is a great time for children to be social and get to know each other, especially if they’re in the same grade. Eating lunch together is a good way for the children to get used to each others’ faces and voices, since they’ll be spending so much time together in class. This will also help them get used to eating with others, which can be especially important for children who have difficulty with sensory processing.
You can do this by having a “lunch buddy” for each student, and making sure that everyone is assigned one (or more) buddies. This will help to ensure that students are eating with others who are compatible with them, and it will also give them the opportunity to practice social skills in a safe environment.
5. Give the students privileges if they are getting along.
The best way to promote peer compatibility in a classroom for special needs children is to give them privileges if they are getting along.
If you have students who are struggling to get along, you can use incentives to encourage them to work together more effectively. For example, if you notice that two students are having a hard time getting along and working on their own, you can tell them that they can only earn privileges if they spend some time working together. You can also do this by rewarding students with privileges when they do something good together.
The best way to encourage peer compatibility is to remove barriers and give tangible rewards for good behavior.
Removing barriers means creating an environment where all children, regardless of their needs, can play together in a safe and comfortable way. This may mean providing a quiet space for one student with autism who has trouble with loud noises, or it might mean creating a set of rules that all students agree upon.
Tangible rewards come in many forms: stickers, tickets, certificates, etc. These can be given out for good behavior or positive interactions between students (such as helping another student out). This encourages students to take ownership over their own behavior and encourages collaboration.