Teaching Children with Special Needs
It takes a special person to teach children with special needs. It also takes special qualifications. If you’re up for the challenge of providing quality care, support and friendship; this rewarding career might just be for you.
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Teaching Children With Special Needs
It takes a special person to teach children with special needs. It also takes special qualifications. Teachers who want to go into special needs education have to know more about childhood development than normal teachers because they have to be able to work outside of normal development. They also need to know all about various learning disabilities, such as autism, ADHD and Down’s Syndrome.
If you want to become a special needs teacher you need outstanding qualifications that just start with an undergraduate degree. Most special needs teachers have postgraduate courses in special education, including how to use specialised learning material and equipment and how to apply specialised educational techniques.
Teaching special needs kids can be roughly divided into three branches: teaching kids with learning disabilities like ADHD, teaching children with above average intelligence (gifted) and teaching children with more serious disabilities like autism.
Courses for Special Needs Education
You can start out your quest to become a special needs teacher by completing an Education course. There’s plenty to choose from, including a Certificate III in Education Support or the very popular Bachelor of Education and then entering Special Needs postgraduate courses or by choosing an undergraduate degree that includes special needs teaching aspects.
Traditionally, the only way to obtain a degree in special needs education was to physically attend a University and complete coursework, but these days it’s possible to get your qualification in education online. Bear in mind, however, that if you choose to complete your special needs degree online you will need to find a school that will allow you to complete the practical aspects of the course.
You can also take a more roundabout route to becoming a special needs teacher. You could, for example, take TAFE courses in education, such as TAFE Certificate IV in Education Support. The certificate allows you to become a teacher’s assistant, which includes support for special needs teachers.
Becoming a special needs teacher is infinitely rewarding, but it’s also infinitely challenging and unless you have the patience and an ability to look beyond the ordinary.
Special Needs Teaching Methods
Teaching methods for children with special needs vary according to the severity and type of the disability. Mild learning disabilities might require the use of extra visual cues in lessons or more physical activities that can still occur in a traditional school environment but more severe special needs could also include aspects of physical therapy and one-on-one classes in special schools.
It’s important to remember that even if you’re teaching special needs children in a traditional school, you need to customise learning programs to their individual needs. You also need to develop programs with parents – to the parent’s capabilities – so that they can continue to promote learning and development at home. Furthermore, your programs need to address children’s social, emotional and behavioural needs.
Teaching Gifted Students
Gifted students or students with higher abilities also have special needs. They don’t do well in ordinary classroom situations, as their special needs are left unattended and their gifts undeveloped. The challenge with gifted students is to keep them challenged and motivated with innovative lessons and creative teaching methods.
Gifted students generally have no end of questions about everything, so one of the best ways to help them reach their full potential is to have them try and answer their own questions. You provide the support and guidance necessary to allow this by exploring different methods of learning and different routes to knowledge. In many cases you will also have to help develop emotional and social development and you will definitely have to work with parents to help them understand their child’s potential.
Where Can a Career in Special Needs Take You?
Special Needs Teachers are always needed, with many children requiring additional support, care and assistance with their learning and development. From specialist centres through to support staff in childcare centres, primary school and secondary school, there’s no shortage of jobs in this sector.
You can also pursue a career in child care, or even disability to further your learning in a specialised area. The beauty of this diverse career path is that you can choose what you’re the most passionate about and tailor you learning to suit. Whether you’re looking for a career change or starting the job search; there’s always a path that can help you get into this rewarding industry.
Here are some important statistics for the Special Needs Education sector:
Percentage of Female Workers
Percentage of Full Time Workers
Special Needs Teaching has increased by 17.8% in the past five years, with an expected 10,000 to 25,000 new jobs to open by 2019.
For Special Needs Teachers, the most common qualification level is a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma course, with 45.3% having obtained this in the industry.
Special Needs teaching is as rewarding as it is challenging, but the effect you will have on a child’s life is something that makes this such an important career. If you want to start making a difference today, begin your career through one of the education courses on offer; or, continue your path in a disability or child care course instead.
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