With almost 15%* of school age children with special educational needs, it’s important for us to teach our little ones to be inclusive and aware of others who may seem different. Everyone is unique and different, but some differences are more obvious than others.
Like all of us, kids want friendship, connection and a sense of belonging. From toddlers, we’re all learning how to interact with others and we develop our relationship skills from what we learn from our parents, not only what they say, but how they act.
When it comes to meeting people with learning or physical disabilities, we’ve been taught that we need to be polite, and ‘not to stare.’ But is this teaching them to ignore or avert their attention away from that person? Is it teaching them to treat someone with a disability differently?
And when our kids are bored, we tell them things like; ‘you’re so lucky to be able to run around…. think of the poor kids who can’t.’ But again, are we teaching them to pity kids who are different?
…everyone is unique and different….but some differences are more obvious than others.
Here are a few tips to help your little ones relate to kids with special educational needs.
- Teach your kids to say ‘HI’. A nice smile and ‘hello’ can make a difference to someone’s day! Also, advise them not to expect anything in return – it there’s not an immediate reply, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t appreciated.
- All children, regardless of whether they have a disability, want to be included and form friendships.
- As with all new friendships, encourage your child to find out what they have in common. Kids with a disability might need support or special equipment, but they still may enjoy the same activities.
- Respect is key! It really goes without saying but it’s important to be respectful both physically and emotionally. Teach your kids to be kind and compassionate. Teasing or name-calling based on someone’s differences is not acceptable.
A nice smile and ‘hello’ can really make a difference to someone’s day!
Find out more with these helpful articles:
How Lemon Tree ‘Everyday Experience’ books can help
Our new range of books have been developed by leading educators and SENDCO’s to support sensitive children or those with special educational needs. If your little one struggles with bright lights, crowds or is uncomfortable with new surroundings, these books can help to prepare your child for everyday events like going to the supermarket, hairdresser or doctor.
We hope that in some small way, our books can help your sensitive child to feel less anxious about everyday experiences.
You can find out more about our books by clicking here.