Children with developmental delays are individuals who can be very different from each other. The diagnosis includes a wide range of disabilities and levels of functioning. That means you will have to get to know your students and their abilities in order to individualize your lessons for them. However, the following tips have worked for teachers of children with developmental delays for years, and they will help you get started.
Establish routines quickly
Many children with developmental disabilities like to know what to expect. Having a routine comforts them, relieving their anxiety about what comes next, and making it easier for them to concentrate on the lessons you are teaching. Keep your daily routines simple, set them up quickly and teach them to the children right away. This will get you off to a successful start.
Break it down
Children with developmental delays tend to do better when information is presented in small, incremental pieces. Teaching too much at a time may overwhelm and confuse them. One step at a time works better, and do not assume that they already know how to start. For example, this is how you would teach a simple task like washing hands by breaking it down into steps:
Turn on the faucet. Wet your hands. Squirt one dab of soap on your palm. Rub your hands together to them sudsy. Rinse them until there are no more suds. Turn off the faucet. Get one paper towel and wipe your hands.
Keep it concrete
Abstract concepts can be difficult to comprehend, so try to give them something they can see and touch. Children with developmental delays are often visual learners. This is not a group who learns by listening to a discussion. Show them rather than tell them, and do things with them. While, pictures are very helpful, objects that they can touch and handle are even better. Let the children manipulate items to count them, or have them play a game that involves moving items while counting them, and they will be better able to grasp the concepts.
Review every day
Repetition helps children with developmental delays to retain the concepts they are learning. Review material often, even if you think they have mastered it. Be sure to go over what they have already learned before you move into any new material, so they can see how it all relates. This is like practice….more is better.
Children with developmental delays are often eager to learn and to do their best for their teacher. If you get to know them and work with their abilities, you will find that they are a wonderfully teachable group.