Special Education

Strategies to support learners with special needs

Mary Stowe, Project Specialist at the William & Mary Training & Technical Assistance Center, offers these suggestions for working with students with disabilities while learning at home. Mary has worked in both general and special education with a focus on reading skills and strategic reading instruction. Mary has a broad range of experience with students with learning disabilities (LD), as well as English Language Learners with LD. She has provided support to students with disabilities in both co-taught and skill-specific classes. 

Establish structure and routine

This allows for a stable environment within which the unexpected may be handled.

  • Create a predictable schedule or structure to the day
  • Chunk information provided to learn or study, as well as chunk the work toward creating a product
Use instructional methods to support learning
  • Use explicit, step-by-step language when providing directions for task completion
  • Use visual supports and models to assure understanding of the task to be completed
  • Provide sufficient wait time for processing needs of the student
Provide behavioral supports for learning
  • Provide reassurance and feelings of security around the circumstances of this unique time to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Co-construct a positive reward system to engage students in learning
  • Acknowledge your child’s successes as learning may be overwhelming for them and provide
    constructive feedback to move them forward in their learning experiences
Build oral language

Now is an excellent time to hold conversations with your children to build their oral language to enhance word retrieval efforts, build vocabulary, and facilitate greater automaticity with decoding. 

Build positive self-esteem

Highlight your student’s strengths and spend positive time engaging in activities that build and support those strengths.