Creating A Classroom That Supports Engagement

Years ago several studies conducted by Dr. Ivar Lovass at UCLA revealed that children on the autism spectrum needed about 7 times as many learning opportunities than typically developing children in order to learn a concept.  Now, I wouldn’t necessarily make “7” a hard and fast number for every child on the spectrum but I think the point is well taken:  children on the spectrum often need more instruction to learn….in large part because of the way their brains are wired, not because they are not capable of learning.

It’s important, therefore, that in our Special Friends classrooms that we are providing a variety of opportunities for our children (and adults) to learn more about Jesus and His love for them.  For that to happen it is essential that “engagement” occurs for our learners during Sunday school.

Engagement as a term used in special education and it is typically defined as “the amount of time children spend attending to teachers and/or Sunday school materials.”  

Research has been conducted by a variety of universities such as UCLA, USC, and Vanderbilt  in order to discover the strategies that support the appropriate classroom engagement of children with special needs.  As a result there have been a variety of best practice strategies that have been discovered.  Creating a classroom environment that supports engagement is one of them!

Here is a short training video we use to educate our new volunteers on the best-practice changes we’ve made in the physical structure of our Special Friends classroom.  These changes increase engagement and decrease nonengagement and disruptive behaviors :

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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