Building Self-Esteem in Children with Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Teaching special education is an important, yet challenging, job. Special education students require your support and encouragement, so this lesson will focus on how you can build their self-esteem in the classroom. Read on, to learn more.

The Importance of Self-Esteem

Building self-esteem can become an uphill battle for students in special education. As a special education teacher, you know daily life is already difficult enough for students dealing with special needs; therefore, feelings of insecurity, rejection, and isolation, can leave students feeling low in the self-esteem department.

When students lack confidence in themselves, it will show up in many areas of their life, including their academic development. In order to eliminate this issue, you should include in-class strategies and programs that work on building self-confidence and self-esteem within your students. Let's take a look at some ways you can create a classroom environment that not only promotes self-esteem, but also builds it from the ground up.

A Positive Classroom Community

The first step in building self-esteem in the special education classroom is to build a positive classroom community. This means, having a classroom where students learn to respect, support, and value one another. If students know they are able to be themselves, make mistakes, learn at their own pace, and share their ideas without judgment or ridicule, they will begin to feel validated and self-assured. Here is what you can do:

  • Create rules, guidelines, and consequences together as a class. Allow everyone to be involved.
  • Assign student jobs, roles, and responsibilities so students feel trusted and see that their skills/abilities are valued.
  • Teach cooperative learning and problem solving skills, so students know how to support one another, feel comfortable trying new things, and understand it is okay to make mistakes.
  • Lead by example. Make mistakes, use individualized praise, talk through problems, have oral reflection time, and be encouraging.

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