Students in science class looking through a lens with the teacher.

Special Educational Needs

If you're running science activities for students with special educational needs, you will need to plan carefully to make sure you're as inclusive and engaging for all students as possible.

Use our Framework for Inquiry to support you as you plan.

How to engage students with special educational needs

We've listed some tips to help you plan inclusive activities for your students:

  • Use visual aids to teach the language of science. This will help you explain the meaning of words such as 'strong', 'weak', 'textured', 'absorbent', 'force' and 'gravity'.
  • Ask students to demonstrate as much as possible. Use language such as 'give me', 'show me', 'make me'.
  • Help students express ideas.
  • Use outdoor play to develop concepts.
  • Discuss a range of answers and ideas.
  • Repeat and take note of suggestions from students. Refer back to them during a discussion.
  • Record the passing of time and set up routines that draw students’ attention to the measurement of time.
  • Teach and practise the language of time.
  • Allow time for students to practise handling new equipment.
  • Allow time for students to finish creations such as diagrams and models.
  • Give students the choice to explain their work orally or in another way that might be more comfortable.
  • Give visual clues or symbols that will remind students of a particular stage of an investigation.

Find more strategies in the Guidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Disabilities (NCCA, 2007).

For support on special education, visit the National Council for Special Education.