Unit 3: Discussing strategies and study tips for learners with emotional and social needs and effective instructional strategies for educators


Return to Main Page of Course: Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of Children with Disabilities


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Target Objectives for this Unit:

  • Participants will utilize the strategies presented to decrease problem behaviors occurring from social and emotional needs.
  • Participants will be able to draw conclusions about motivational factors that increase positive interactions between teachers and students.
  • Participants will be able to select and implement the best strategies/study tips in assisting students with disabilities.
  • Participants will be able to give examples and describe ways in which to communicate with students with disabilities.

Social-Emotional Teaching Strategies

We can all promote social-emotional development in our classrooms by embedding teaching practices in throughout the day. By us remaining sensitive to a child's needs, it allows them to feel secure and confident and acts as a model for effective social behavior. When working with students with social and emotional needs, we need to be attentive to each child's needs, as each child is going to be different. Recognizing that the emotional domain is a foundation to all other developmental domains is important to keep in mind. The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child stated, "As young children develop, their early emotional experiences literally become embedded in the architecture of their brains". This type of development is supported with positive and consistent relationships among teachers and children. "Children who develop warm, positive relationships with their teachers are more excited about learning, more positive about coming to school, more self-confident, and achieve more in the classroom". The strategies below allow for promoting social-emotional development in the classroom;

1. Relationships and Social Interactions with Peers
Child interacts and cooperatively with other children and develops friendships with several peers
Examples being: Read a story about a child whose best friend has moved away, and ask children to share ideas of things they could do to comfort the child. Show an interest in your students' lives outside of school. Give your students games that require cooperation such as Chutes and Ladders.

2. Social and Emotional Understanding
Child shows developing understanding of people's behavior, feelings, thoughts, and individual characteristics.
Examples being: Ask the child to explain why another child is feeling distressed or upset. Show interest and understanding for a child's feelings, example, "I see that you are sad; is it because your mom had to drop you off early today?". Give a chance for "Think-Pair-Share" time during a story, having children pair off or think to themselves of something in the story that relates to their lives.

3. Conflict Negotiation (Problem Solving)
Child shows increasing understanding of the needs of other children and is increasingly able to consider alternatives and to negotiate constructively.
Examples being: Refrain from solving the problem for the children and instead engage them in a conversation if possible that helps them solve it. Ask the class to vote to select items or activities within the classroom time or group time. Ask children to create rules for the playground, recess, or classroom while writing them down and encouraging the children to follow.

4. Child Regulates Emotions and Behaviors
Child increasingly develops strategies for regulating feelings and behavior based on adult guidance.
Examples being: Ask a group of children to brainstorm strategies for remembering to keep their hands to themselves during circle time. Identify feelings in a child and articulate a coping strategy, example, "I can see that Sam is sad, I am going to give Sam our big fuzzy bear because I think it might make him feel better." Give children games to play that require sharing material and taking turns. Encourage children to identify their feelings and scaffold their efforts to develop coping strategies.

5. Engagement and Persistence
Child persists in understanding and mastering a self-selected activity, even if it is challenging or difficult.
Examples being: Ask children to articulate their plan and the steps they will take for an art project. When giving instructions for an activity, demonstrate the mistakes that could happen and correct them, showing the students the correct way to do so. Give projects that have several steps to completion and require planning, correction, and completion (depending on the level of the students).

6. Responsible Conduct
Child develops skill in acting as a responsible group member and behaving in a fair and socially acceptable manner, regulating behavior according to classroom rules.
Examples being: Ensure that every child has a chance to talk. Encourage children to create sign-up lists for turn taking.

7. Integrated Approaches for English Language Development and Family Engagement
English Language Development: Focus on simple strategies that support the children's expressive and receptive language skills. This can promote learning and development. Plan for activities where children can express their feelings and introduce sentence starters such as "Today, I feel..., I do not like..., I need...".
Family Engagement: It is so vital and important to build strong relationships with families to ensure that the whole family has a positive experience in the school and outside in the home as well. When a child feels connection between their home and school, they are bound to feel more connected and safe.

(TK California, 2012)


Helpful Strategies

When working with children with disabilities, they face struggles everyday of their lives. We are focusing in on the social and emotional needs of these students and how we can help and support them. Each child has unique needs and challenges, like every other child in the world, each one is different. Some helpful tips and strategies for the class include:

Collaborative Practices; The most effective approach is to call on the collective knowledge and expertise that various team members bring to the educational, social and emotional planning process. Teaching is not an individual thing, especially when working with children with special needs. The way in which a team can operate can have a significant impact on the outcomes both for the child and their families.

Meaningful and Individualized Curriculum; Individualization requires the best fit of content, sequence, and support with the child's current needs and abilities. Meaningful would require the content to be most relevant to the child and the family's interests.

Communication; Effective communication is frequently a high priority outcome for children with disabilities. Children with disabilities are often delayed in conventional forms of communication, but this is why it is so important to communicate and teach them to communicate their needs and wants with you. This will allow the student to become much more comfortable with opening up when the lines of communication are open. Just as children learn to read to gain information from text, they must know how to interpret nonverbal messages to gain social-emotional information. Nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, postures, and gestures.

Understanding Emotions; At the most basic level, children need to be able to determine, if possible, if a emotion feels bad or good by relying on physical cues. Teachers and parents should come up with a list of "good" (happy, safe, helpful, important) and "bad" (sad, threatened, lonely) feeling words. Students need to develop these emotional vocabulary skills so that they can use the words to label their feelings.

(Horn & Kang, 2012) (Elksnin & Elksnin, 2006)

Types of Learners

Every child learns differently and have their own unique learning style. Some children learn best by seeing, reading, others by listening, and still others by doing. A teacher can best support their students by understanding which learning style sets them up for best success.

Visual Learners: Use books, videos, computers, visual aids, and flashcards. Make detailed, color-coded or high-lighted notes. Make outlines, diagrams, and lists. Use drawings and illustrates usually in color. Take detailed notes in class.

Auditory Learners: Read notes or study materials out loud. Use word associations and verbal repetition to memorize. Study with other students, talk things through. Listen to books on tape or other audio recordings.

Kinesthetic Learners: Get hands on. Do experiments and take field trips. Use activity-based study tools for example model building. Study in small groups and take frequent breaks. Use memory games and flash cards.

I understand that at times not all of these tips and strategies will be effective depending on the level of your students, but if you get to know your students, these tips and strategies can be edited and modified for every child that walks into your classroom.

Questions for Reflection

  • What are some appropriate instructional strategies to use with students with social and emotional needs?
  • Can you identify the best practices learned and how do you plan to implement them?

Along with the reflection questions, complete this short reflection quiz on the material discussed above:


Well Done! You have completed this unit.

Please return to the K-W-L Chart now, and periodically so that you can see how your understanding of students with social and emotional needs (and other's thinking) has been affected by the information provided in this course. It is through the information on the 'Learn' part of the chart that I will assess if the objectives of this course were met.

Reflective Learning Log

Also take a few minutes to write down any thoughts or ideas you have learned more in depth than our K-W-L Chart. This is a chance for you to personally reflect upon the content and internalize the content learned throughout this course.

Feel free to express an questions, comments, or concerns you may have about the content. Possible ideas may include:
Reflecting on the content
Predicting results
Personal opinions
Summarize understanding
Clarify points
Record observations
Compare and contrast how your ideas have changed or misconceptions that have been corrected over the course of this mini course.

Thank you for your participation and I hope you enjoyed this mini course!

Return to the Main Page of the Course:

Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of Children with Disabilities

Return to: Megan Crowley's Portfolio Page Feel free to provide me with any feedback using the discussion feature at Wiki.


Elksnin, L. & Elksnin, N. (2006). Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities Essential Social-Emotional Skills. LDW.
Horn, E. & Kang, J. (2012). Supporting Young Children with Multiple Disabilities: What Do We Know and What Do We Still Need To Learn?. National Institute of Health.
TK California. (2016). Social-Emotional Teaching Strategies. Early Edge California.
Helping Children with Learning Disabilities. Help Guide.