Types of Special Education Schools and Classrooms

There are a variety of special education schools and programs in both a private and public settings. Since every child has unique requirements, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. With proper planning and support, your child’s education can be a positive and successful experience.

Full Inclusion Classrooms

In this type of setting, a special needs child will learn right alongside other children that do not have a learning disability. The child is not singled out as being different, since none of the other students know about his or her special needs. There is usually a special education teacher present in the classroom right alongside the regular teacher. The teachers will share tasks and instruction – helping all students.

Inclusion classrooms allow each student to learn at their own level and pace. Even children who don’t qualify for special services, but are struggling to keep up, will benefit from this type of classroom. Although this type of learning works well for most children, some will have trouble dealing with the stimuli of a regular classroom full of students.

Self-Contained Classrooms

Self-contained classrooms are separated so that a special needs child can receive more one-on-one instruction. These types of classrooms usually group together a small number of children with similar learning needs. Depending on the size of the school, the ages and levels of the children within the class can vary.

Most education experts feel that spending time with peers is an important part of learning. Because of this, some special-needs children enrolled in self-contained classrooms will share equal time in a regular classroom each day. Depending on the child, a Paraeducator may accompany him or her while in the regular classroom.

Children who need one-on-one help in order to keep up with grade-level work, but do not need the structure of a self-contained classroom, may benefit from a resource room placement.

Out-of-District Placement

In cases where a special-needs child requires a higher degree of classroom structure and instruction, an out-of-district placement may be the best option. These types of classrooms can be in residential, private, or public special education schools. In order to participate with funding from the State Board of Education, the family must go through an application process first.

Private Special Education Schools

Private specialized day programs and residential programs are generally for children who are not succeeding in any of the other types of special education classrooms. Although, sometimes education services in the private sector will also serve infants, toddlers, or even adults.

Before choosing a private school program for your special needs child, you should visit and spend time there. This will allow you to get a genuine, first-hand feel for the school in order to decide if the atmosphere, activities, courses, opportunities, and provisions will meet your child’s needs.

Other things that you may want to consider are staffing, facilities, healthcare services, visitation policies, meals, and how well supervision is handled.

Your special needs child deserves the best education available to him or her. Don’t forget to ask for your child’s input during your research and planning process. Once placement into one of the special education schools has been made, continue to monitor and be involved in your child’s education and care. And remember, you can always make changes if something is not working out.

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