Children with special needs often require more from a daycare than the average child. Not only do they need to be given the opportunity to participate in beneficial activities that have their needs taken into account, but they also might require daycare until a later age than other children. By having an inviting place that allows the child with special needs to work on the skills they need to strengthen, you are providing a vital service to their parents.
Providing a Daycare for Children with Special Needs
Ask for a copy of the child's Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and then try to provide activities that will assist their school in meeting those goals. The IEP will not only provide you with information on what their educational needs are, but will also give you some insight into how their special needs will affect their day.
Provide the right setting. Some children with special needs can often be over stimulated by a lot of sounds and colors while others need the extra stimulation. Make sure that you have a setting for both. By having a place for children to go to when they are over stimulated, you are not only providing an inviting environment but can also work on teaching them how to monitor their own feelings by allowing them to go there when they feel it is needed.
Provide special services while the children are there. Children with special needs often require different therapies which can be difficult for parents to organize when they work full time. By offering speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy you are providing their parents with a very useful service.
Remember they are still children. Every child needs some time to explore their environment and make friends. While having programs based on their special needs is important, they should also be given time to play freely and build relationships with other children. Providing activities that force children to interact and get to know each other will be as beneficial to the child as any therapy.
Tips & Warnings
- Use age appropriate materials and activities. This is especially important when trying to allow the child to develop relationships with their peers. If you use materials that are too young for them, children their own age will not see them as peers.
- Provide daily communication. Children with special needs might not be able to pass on important information to their parents. Providing something as simple as a checklist on what the child did and any hygiene or medical issues can give the parents valuable information.
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