Special needs schools have changed the way we think about educating children with learning disabilities. If you have a child who won’t be able to flourish in a traditional learning environment, you’ve probably already started looking into what your educational options are. The more we understand about the way children learn, the more these institutions seem pop up. But how do you choose the right one for you and your family? Here are some aspects to consider.
1. This seems obvious, but it’s something you may not consider at first. Make sure that you chose a place that specializes in your student’s exact disability. For example, if it’s one of the special needs schools that focus mainly on the Autism spectrum or other, non-verbal disabilities, it may not be able to give your son or daughter the help he or she needs with dyslexia. Do research on the particular educational need of your child so that you’ll be better able to place him or her where they’ll get the most productive help.
2. Decide whether you want to go public or private. If you can afford a private institution, you may be able to better specialize the instruction to meet individual needs of your son or daughter. You can usually widen the search area and increase your number of options with this option. However, if you live near a public school that is doing really good work with learning disabilities, you may want to think about choosing that one.
3. Ask for advice. This doesn’t mean ask your entire social network of friends and family. Keep in mind that many people don’t fully understand the latest research into the way all children learn, so they may not understand the best way to help your child, even if they mean well. You’ll want to consider joining a local parents’ group so that you’ll be able to best share resources with other people who understand the situation of your family better than those who have no experience. These groups also sometimes offer workshops for parents to help them with the decision making process.
4. Visit the special needs schools you are considering. Meet some of the other students and the teachers who will be working with your son or daughter. There should be students who are similar to yours, and the staff should be trained in working with them. Make sure you check out the credentials of the potential teachers to ensure that they know that they’re doing, and, most importantly, make sure that you feel comfortable trusting them with your family’s educational future.
Choosing between special needs schools for you and your family is a deeply personal decision that depends on many factors, including the selection that’s available in your area. Because this field is evolving so quickly, you’ll want to ensure that the one you choose makes you the most comfortable and has the credentials to help your student learn.