Schooling is an integral part of one’s growing up. This is the phase of making strides. But, this phase might be a challenging chapter in a child’s life with special needs. Factoring this, special schools have become the need of the hour. In these institutions, teachers are trained differently, and education is also through a different modus operandi.
A cut above, for even more ease and comfort, online special schools have paved their way into the educational sector. Moreover, not just online, some of these schools are even free! This is even more crucial for individuals living in towns with limited or no access to special schools.
This post will look into how online schools for special students function, why they are important, and seven free schools for special needs students.
Online special schools – A burning need
Physical schools can be great; the teacher-student proximity, learning environment, and the feeling of being in the company of peers can positively impact a student. But have you ever wondered how the virtual school could be a remarkable experience for special students? Here are a few benefits that make online special schools favorable for students with impaired needs –
Online education adds convenience to special needs students by offering an alternative to traveling long distances for education. They can study from the comfort of their home, where they feel more at ease, safe, and loved.
- Students stay strong
Online education enriches the learning process of special needs students. Some advantages that go in this favor are freer participation, no large crowds, having the privilege to study at desired pace and time. Often, students feel hesitant to answer in front of the whole class; the scenario would be different here, which would make the students stronger communicators.
- The best place for curious learners
The Internet has everything, and you can search anything, starting from rhymes for children to research papers and everything in between. A young mind that likes to wander freely would find himself at home with the internet. With proper direction and guidance, students can use the internet to quench their curiosity to know more about concepts. This may lead to academic growth and a resilient attitude in them.
Free online learning schools for special needs students
From making teaching videos to connecting with students emotionally and keeping parents in the loop, there are many online schools that are working for the enhancement of special students. We have listed below seven of the best free online schooling options for children with special needs:
1. eAchieve Academy
eAchieve Academy is a non-profit educational institute operated by the School District of Waukesha. This institute is not affiliated with any academic partner, but it makes for a highly trusted virtual academy. This independent body has academy teachers who are veteran School District of Waukesha employees.
By helping with an extensive curriculum, this online special education school is perfect for students with special needs because they might find themselves bored in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. In this online school, they can learn and read outside the class and still become academically strong.
2. Connections Academy
Connection Academy realizes that special students need the flexibility to learn in their own ways, which made them curate multiple modules. Each of these segments is dedicated and formulated according to the different disabilities of the child. They work on such an educational module with the thought that one special education program cannot fit the needs of all specially-abled children.
3. Toronto eSchool
Based in Toronto, Toronto eSchool is fully inspected and approved by the Ontario Secondary School Diploma and the Ministry of Education. The school motivates the children to achieve their academic goals and also prepares them for their university admissions. The teaching module used by this online school is entirely video-based. Building around this, students would be attempting online assessments and virtual evaluations.
4. Helping Minds Foundation
Helping Minds Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on business and IT education to reach youth who have disabilities and are underprivileged. This is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that accepts donations from volunteers. Their mission focuses on value creation, global impact, and creating prepared graduates. This online special student not only focuses on the schooling and education of the child but also prepares and guides them for college and their life ahead.
5. Khan Academy
Being a prominent name in the online learning category, Khan Academy also closely focuses on the needs of special students. With a unique curriculum for specially-abled students, this renowned school distinctly trains educators to teach the students with impaired needs in a manner in which they would understand and retain. From different assignments to reattempts, this online free school recognizes that specially-abled children need additional help.
VirtualSC is a part of the South Carolina Department of education, which is committed to building capacity in educational programs and ensuring that children with disabilities are presented with appropriate and free public education as per Federal Law. The educational programs offered to comply with high school credits. The virtual school follows a daily attendance system, where the courses are available 24-hours so that students can attend their classes as per their own schedule.
It is often challenging as a special needs parent to guide children. TASP is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents guide and support their special needs children. This online learning portal brings many teachers committed to providing quality education that enables such children to gain knowledge and become self-advocates. This online school uses conferences, webinars, and direct training to train the students.
Online school Vs. Physical schools for special needs children
The Internet has changed the way we live and impacted everything. Moreover, education too has not been left untouched. However, is an online school really required or useful?
Physical schools have a set of pros. These schools are places that teach students ethics of life along with social interaction. Students’ visual feedback is ensured in physical education, and teachers can move around and interact with students directly. These attributes are a clear miss in the case of the online school process.
While physical schools can be great, certain points make online schooling more fruitful for children with special needs. Online schooling offers great convenience to students by offering flexibility in learning and opting for a relevant learning speed. Apart from this, students can study from anywhere; they can do a course from a university in Australia while sitting in New York. This not only provides ease but is financially beneficial too.
Challenges faced in online special education and how to overcome them?
Everything has its own pros and cons. Similarly, with online schools being convenient, affordable, and much more, are there any challenges that come with this teaching module? Let’s look at some demanding factors. Convenience, affordability, more participation; while online schools can be a bliss for students, is there any challenge with this teaching module? Let’s find out.
- Abrupt Transition:
When there is a sudden transition from physical schools to online schools, students might take time to adjust to this new setup. Students with impaired needs might take longer to adjust to this transition, and the educators and the parents must wait patiently. The use of technology, changes in the environment, and teaching methods might bewilder them, thus taking longer to regulate.
Technology can be bewildering for special students; hence, going to school might seem simpler for a differently-abled student. It might seem like a challenge at first, but as the student gets acquainted with the technology, the setup becomes beneficial for them.
- Parents Involvement:
The parents need to be fully devoted to their kids when they are enrolled in an online special school. From making sure that they are paying attention, to regularly following up with the teachers; online special schools demand a lot of parent involvement.
- Keeping the students engaged:
In physical special schools, teachers receive special training to engage the students. But, due to the low attention span in students with impaired needs, it might be a challenge for the teachers to keep students engaged, and motivated. Establishing a personal bond and connection takes a longer time.
Special needs students from villages and towns may not get ample sources to learn and gain knowledge, which makes online schools a favorable option. Children with impaired needs need special attention, and a different kind of learning experience, which not only helps them become academically strong, but also builds up their social skills, and this is what the online schools do best!
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