After-school programs for special education students are a great way for students with disabilities to stay active and engaged after school. While they may not be able to do as much as their peers, they do possess impressive talents that can be developed into a lifetime interest. Running like the wind, drawing like a Picasso, and being a successful Girl Scout are only some of the talents these kids may possess. These children need opportunities to expand on their interests and develop their skills.
Conditions that affect after-school programs for special education students
Special education programs provide educational opportunities for students with disabilities. These students have certain learning disabilities that affect their basic processes, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. Depending on the type of disability, the student may benefit from in-class interventions that address these issues. In California, one in ten students receive special education services. Specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, affect 4 percent of K-12 students. Speech and language impairments affect nearly one-fourth of SWDs. Other less common disabilities include traumatic brain injuries, blindness, and deafness.
In some states, funding for special education decreased over a three-year period. However, the federal government provided additional short-term funding through the ARRA. Because funding for special education programs has decreased over time, more money is needed today than in the past. Nevertheless, the problem persists. Increasingly, students with disabilities require more intensive services and support, which means that special education programs must offer more services and accommodations to meet the needs of these students.
Limitations of after-school programs for special education students
There is a wide range of opinions about the quality of after-school programs for special education students. These opinions are largely based on empirical studies, which report inconsistent results. However, researchers have concluded that program quality largely depends on the characteristics of children, their families, and communities. A recent review found that programs that foster positive interaction and a flexible schedule were more effective than those that lacked these features.
The scope of these programs can vary widely, with different options aimed at the same audience. Some of them are self-contained, with 100% of students having special needs. Others are part of general classes alongside non-special needs students. Other programs may have withdrawal classes, in which students are occasionally taken out of a regular class to receive special education support. These programs may also provide indirect support by offering resources that help children with disabilities.
Need for qualified educators in after-school programs for special education students
After-school programs are an increasingly popular option for many children, but few of them are equipped with qualified educators. Special education services are required by law for programs that are affiliated with public schools. Even independent after-school programs may not have trained staff. Many students with disabilities must work with unqualified staff. The state of California is taking steps to make after-school programs more inclusive of students with disabilities.
Some special education teacher preparation programs prepare you to work in a co-teaching setting. Many of these programs serve students with mild to moderate disabilities, such as learning or speech/language disorders, behavior disorders, or ADD/ADHD. You can also work for a private institution or government agency to assist students with disabilities. Educators with advanced degrees in special education may be able to work in a variety of settings.
A transitional employment program for disabled young people is a vitally important part of the education system. Having a job can help a person develop self-esteem, confidence, and sense of identity. Moreover, it can help them prepare for post-secondary education and employment. This is the goal of Bancroft Employment Enterprises, a two-tiered program that helps young people with disabilities develop both hard and soft skills, and identify job opportunities.
A youth’s vocational interest and preference can be assessed through a vocational assessment by age 14. The vocational assessment process involves an interview with the student and a questionnaire filled out by their parents, teachers, and related services providers. This assessment helps the program match the young person’s interests and preferences to appropriate career options. After the assessment, the young person and their family can explore interests and preferences through discussions and homework. Math assignments can be used to discuss statistics in the news and money management.