The old methods of teaching students with certain disabilities often focused on punishments, but the newest teaching methods for students with emotional disabilities focus more on encouraging good behaviors. Those suffering from emotional issues often have a hard time concentrating on both smaller and larger tasks and may act out in the classroom. Educators working with these students must understand how to use praise in the right way and how to keep students interested. While some schools may have Emotional Support Professionals on staff, it is still important for the classroom teacher to understand how to teach students with emotional problems.
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Motivating students with emotional problems is one way to keep them focused on their studies. Threatening or punishing the child with detention and other penalties may result in the child acting out in different ways. Using small rewards is a simple way to motivate students. Some teachers use a reward system that gives students a point for each day they don’t act out and for good behavior. Kids can turn in those points for stickers, toys and other small prizes. Other teachers simply praise students and highlight their good behaviors while ignoring any negative or bad behaviors.
Rewarding children for good behavior isn’t always enough. Kids with certain emotional disabilities may have a hard time sitting still and listening to a teacher or working with others. Using a time out system can make those children feel punished and lead to them acting out again in the future. Instead of using time outs, simply take short breaks. Keep an eye on those children and look for signs of problems, including fidgeting or talking to classmates. When you notice any restlessness, immediately take a short five minute break before going back to your assignment.
Following a Set Schedule
Creating and following a set schedule may also help you deal with children suffering from emotional problems. These kids often feel distracted when trying to do work at school. Something as simple as a classmate asking to borrow a piece of paper to a bird flying by the window can put the child off his or her work. When you frequently change the schedule, you add an extra distraction to that child’s day. You may find it helpful to assign seats in your class as well. The kids will eventually grow to feel more confident when they sit in the same spot and follow the same schedule every day.
Create a Contingency Plan
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends using a contingency plan when incorporating teaching methods for students with emotional disabilities. As much as you might want your kids to act in the same way, kids can act out. The NSTA suggests coming up with contingency plans that you can use every day. These plans might include changing the subject when a child gets distracted, moving he or she closer to your desk or even asking that child a simple question about the current assignment. You may even want to stop the child from behaving in a certain way and show the student the proper way to act.
Kids with emotional disabilities face problems both at home and at school, but educators can help those students feel more comfortable and more confident in the classroom. Teachers who experience the highest level of success with these students are those who use a combination of traditional and newer teaching methods for students with emotional disabilities.