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Everybody's Different: Helping Your Child Interact With Classmates With Special Needs
It’s very common these days for mainstream classrooms to be populated by both typical students, as well as those with special needs. This diverse mix of students provides a great opportunity for children of all ability levels to learn to live alongside one another. Teach your child how to interact with classmates with special needs using these tips.
1. Everybody’s Different…
Let your child know that no two people are alike. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, needs, wants, goals, and abilities. It’s imperative that we learn to accept and appreciate our differences, and foster friendships regardless of what makes us unique. This life lesson will serve your child well regardless of whom they’re interacting with.
2. Yet, We’re All The Same
All of us want to be loved and accepted for who we are. Children with special needs face more challenges in life in many regards, and teaching your children empathy for their struggles will enable them to interact with these classmates more easily and effectively.
3. Defend the Downtrodden
Sadly, ignorant people will often target children with special needs and bully them. Let your child know that it’s always appropriate and encouraged to stick up for those who are being picked on. Teach them zero tolerance for bullying, and inform them how to discreetly tell a teacher, or other responsible adult, about what their classmate is dealing with.
Many children with special needs could use help from their peers. Encourage your child to look for opportunities to help a classmate with special needs whenever they can. Whether it’s carrying a backpack, showing them how to get to their next class, retrieving something from a high shelf, or sitting with them at lunch, there are always plenty of chances to do a good deed for our fellow humans.
If you child has a classmate with a particular special need, research it with your child to help him or her learn about what his or her peer goes through on a daily basis. Making your child aware of others’ differences builds character and creates empathy.
We’re all in this together. We’re all unique, yet we all wanted to be treated fairly. Raise your children to respect the differences of their peers, and they will carry those values with them throughout their lives.