Choosing a school for children with social difficulties is a very difficult task. Parents know that the school they chose will have a big impact on their child's self-confidence, their ability to learn and their childhood experiences. Get it right and you can help them learn and overcome many barriers and many difficulties they may have. Get it wrong and it can become practically a daily nightmare.
What are the options?
There are four ways to teach children with social difficulties:
o Home Education or Private Tutoring
o Special Schools for children with learning difficulties
o Private Education
o Regular State School that has special needs facilities
Each of these schools will have their own set of benefits and disadvantages. If you are looking for a specific type of school that teaches children with social difficulties then you may be lucky to have one close by or unfortunate to find that the closest one is 100 miles away. So your options are limited to what's available or what you are prepared to extend to.
Which option will be best?
This depends on the child as well as the schools that are available to you in your local area. To determine which school is best, parents have to see what their child needs the most and what is going to the best learning experience. Once the parent has a good idea about which school will be best then it is worth giving it time to allow the ups and downs to settle from the initial change. Even if parents make the best choice there may still be problems. Certainly moving children from one school to another to try out the best option is going to cause problems with the constant change.
So the best thing to do to find out which school is best is to do your homework into what the schools are offering. Talk to the headmaster. Get them to be straight with you about what facilities they have, what experience they have with children with social difficulties, how they would handle behavioral problems if they occur. See what the schools are like, if they have places for children to go to when they are feeling bad or want to get away from the noise of the playground.
What are you child's needs?
Each of the school choices can be a valid option and will depend on the needs of the child. For example children that are suffering with social difficulties may chose home schooling where their interaction with others can be more closely controlled. Children that suffer with more severe learning difficulties or concentration levels may need more patient and understanding and so a special needs school may be best. The following is a good checklist for things to consider when considering what type of school may be necessary.
o Physical abilities
o Concentration level when learning
o Concentration level with others
o Ability to interact with others
o Ability to conform to rules
o Ability to deal with ridicule/bullying
o Ability to control own behavior and safety
o Ability to be unsupervised
o Self confidence and need for motivation
Some seem a little harsh to think about but these are serious issues that should be considered. For example, some children with social difficulties have a tendency to run out of class when their environment feels threatening, so you would not want to send them to a school where they can be easily lost or could spend time unsupervised. Some children are overwhelmed by the size of the school or number of children so you may want to send them to a small school with a small number of children.
Whatever your options are the choice is not an easy one. So if you are deciding between a specialist school that deals only with children with social difficulties, a private school that has a special needs program and achieves great results, a state school that has small class sizes (not likely), or even home education the choice may not be so easy to make. This is why the choice has to come down to the type of child because they could do great things in a low performing school or perform badly in a high performing school.
The best choice is a school that will make them feel the best, the most motivated, the safest and that they get the most from. So whether you chose home schooling, a special school, a private or even regular state school, if you choose a school that allows them to enjoy learning the most then you are not likely to go wrong.