One of the most rewarding times is when I get the chance to go out and work with students with special needs. While these kids have many of the same needs as the other students in school, there are often other areas where they benefit from added opportunities. Fine motor skills, social & emotional literacy, memory strengthening and inquiry skills are examples of needs that are strengthened and developed alongside many of the core curricular concepts and skills being taught in the classroom.
Finding games that work comes from knowing the individual needs of the students in the class, but there are also some good guidelines for selecting games that will provide successful experiences.
- Select Language Independent Games: These games remove any language barriers and allow students to participate in higher level activities related to curricular areas. Finding games that are language independent is not too difficult because many of today’s modern board games are language independent. Dixit is a wonderful example of a game that requires the use of expressive language, analytical skills, empathy and decoding skills while not relying on written language.
- Select Games By Skills and NOT Age: Games are fun and GOOD games are engaging regardless of the targeted age. HABA is a German game and toy manufacturer that makes fun and engaging games for young children with a level of quality in their components that is unsurpassed by other manufacturers. They are able to include higher levels of student learning that are easily attainable by even the youngest of students. The level of engagement coupled with the quality of components makes the games appeal to children of all ages (even adults). This allows educators to work on more rudimentary skills without loosing student interest.
- Never Underestimate What Is Possible: Despite any challenges they face or special needs they may have, I am continually amazed at how well students rise to meet the expectations of the games I bring. This is not to say that every game experience is a success as each of us have our own personal preferences when it comes to things. But when keeping in mind the first two guidelines, I find that many of my reservations are unnecessary because the game experience and the fun it brings encourages each student to excel and shine.
Positive Game Experiences With Students with Special Needs