Planning for a Variety of Special Needs
What kinds of special needs are represented in your classroom? That’s the first question you’ll need to ask yourself when planning your classroom setup to accommodate a variety of special needs. Consider the differing needs before you get started, then make a list of factors you need to consider. For example, if you have children suffering from low vision or blindness, be sure there are no stray items left around the classroom that could be dangerous for that student.
Also, realize that once you set up your classroom, you’ll need to keep it that way. Children with visual impairments have trouble finding their way around when you move the room around frequently. Each time you move something, they have to adjust. So if you have a student with visual challenges, keep the room the same all year if possible, at least with regard to furniture. Another consideration is using as much bright lights and brilliant colors as possible. Posters on the walls should be brightly colored with bold black lettering. Be sure to keep the classroom well-lighted too, especially on dreary overcast days.
Classroom setup for a multicategorical special education classroom will most likely include accommodations for a wheelchair. Make sure not to plan furnishings in places that would hinder the movement of a wheelchair. You’ll also need plenty of room to store the equipment used by physical therapists. A large closet is a must for holding these supplies. Plan to include a table that is sized appropriately for a wheelchair user to pull up to and use as a desk.
Assigning seats in the special needs classroom should be well thought out, depending on the needs of the students. Place any students with ADHD away from doors and windows, or other areas of the classroom that might cause a distraction. Put students with hearing problems nearest the area of the room that you mostly speak from, so he/she will hear you as you give instructions. Students with visual impairments should sit near the board, so they can see assignments easier. Students with behavior problems should be placed near your desk, and away from other kids who have behavior challenges.