Students with numerous and serious problems are at risk of becoming permanently harmed, particularly if they have no way of escaping perceived danger. Studies have shown, for instance, that when some children are repeatedly humiliated and have no way of escaping this humiliation, they often become enraged. This can have tragic consequences. Other students who feel unsafe are anxious. Anxious people don’t learn well. Their ability to process information, remember it and respond objectively to it is impaired.
Creating a safe school community in which to learn, therefore, is the priority. Here is the first strategy:
Provide safety nets. Safety nets minimize the impairing effects of students’ problems. When schools provide meals to impoverished children, they minimize the impairing effects of hunger. When they provide after-school day care, they minimize the dangers of children left unsupervised after school. When teachers prevent or stop fights between students, they protect them from harm.
Other safety nets include class accommodations for learning problems. These accommodations minimize the impairing effects of the problems. For instance, a child with a sensory integration disorder may be vulnerable working in a class with 25 other children, where the noise and physical contact are simply too intense for him. Giving this child time with a teacher’s assistant in a quiet corner or room are safety nets.
Accommodations for children with reading disabilities may include: the teacher’s understanding and support; not calling on the children to read in class and, thereby, humiliating themselves; providing audio versions of textbooks so they can access the information in the text without being penalized for their reading disability; and your reading certain texts aloud in class, such as the assigned novel or the current science chapter.
Safety nets for children who have trouble regulating their emotions include: having a quiet corner to which they can retreat and regain some self-control; having the teacher identify and remove those factors that trigger strong emotional reactions; helping students correctly interpret what they see and hear; giving them notice of what is coming up next so they can predict the near future; and giving them the opportunity to take a walk outside with a teacher’s assistant.
In the next blog, we look at more strategies for promoting a safe environment.
Manus Academy specializes in working with students, from grades three through 12, with learning barriers. Our methods and materials are based on decades of educational research that tell us how to maximize student learning. These methods have been further subjected to rigorous in-house testing and are continuously improved and updated. The result is a strong educational program where every student shows progress. To learn more, ask questions or schedule a visit, call us at 704-542-6471 or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you.