Oct 24, 2023

Tips for Supporting SPED Students through Seasonal Changes

tips for paraprofessionals to support students through seasonal changes

It seems that right after getting into the groove of a new school year, it’s already time to adjust with the changing of seasons. Seasonal transitions can be particularly challenging for students with sensory issues and those who struggle with routine adjustments. As a SPED teacher or paraprofessional, you play a crucial role in helping students navigate challenges in the classroom, including those that may come with the changing of seasons. Here are some valuable tips to assist you in supporting SPED students through seasonal changes.

Consistency in Routine

Special education students usually thrive on consistency and predictability. Seasonal changes can disrupt their routines, leading to stress and anxiety. To maintain a consistent routine:

communicate seasonal schedule changes visual calendar Communicate schedule changes well in advance, if possible, and use visual schedules to help students understand upcoming changes.
prepare special education students and plan extra time for seasonal changes Gradually introduce new routines and activities that align with the changing season, giving students time to adapt. For example, prepare them well in advance if they’ll need to stop an activity early to have extra time to put on outdoor winter gear.
open communication with students during seasonal changes Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for students to express their concerns or anxieties related to routine adjustments.

Understand Sensory Sensitivities

An important aspect of working with special education students is understanding their sensory sensitivities. During seasonal changes, students might be affected by factors like temperature, lighting, and allergens. Take the following steps to address sensory sensitivities:

communicate with student, parents & teachers about sensitivities and triggers Communicate with the student, their parents and teachers to gather information about specific sensitivities and triggers.
sensory friendly classroom adjust lighting temperature Create a sensory friendly classroom environment, including adjusting lighting and temperature.
sensory kit to help cope with sensory overload Allow students to have a “sensory kit” that contains items such as fidget toys, noise-reducing earmuffs or chewy necklaces that help them cope with sensory overload.

Modify Clothing Options

Seasonal transitions often require students to adjust their clothing to stay comfortable. Special education students might have preferences or difficulties in this area. Consider the following:

student choice of comfortable clothing during seasonal changes Allow students to have a choice in their clothing at school when appropriate, ensuring they can wear what feels comfortable to them.
maintain a supply of extra clothing for special education students through seasonal changes Maintain a supply of extra clothing options for students, such as lightweight layers, hats, or gloves and mittens, for unpredictable weather changes.

Outdoor Activities and Sensory Breaks

Take advantage of the opportunities that changing seasons offer for outdoor activities and sensory breaks.

seasonal activities outdoors for special education students Incorporate seasonal activities like nature walks, leaf collecting, or snow play, depending on the season, to engage students in hands-on learning experiences.
classroom sensory break stations for special education students to self-regulate through seasonal changes Create sensory break stations in the classroom where students can take a break and engage with sensory tools like play-dough or activities like maze puzzles to help them self-regulate.

 

As a special education teacher or paraprofessional, supporting SPED students through seasonal changes is invaluable. By being prepared for seasonal sensory sensitivities, you can create a supportive environment for your students.

Aequor knows that meeting your students’ needs is of the utmost importance to special education teachers and paraprofessionals. If you’re looking for a better work-life balance, consider talking with one of our dedicated education recruiters about our open education positions! You can visit the Aequor Talent Portal to browse open positions and get connected with a recruiter today.

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