Front view of happy diverse school kids standing in outside corridor at school while a Caucasian schoolgirl is sitting on wheelchair in foreground

Teach a Child to Include a Disabled Classmate

It's almost time to go back to school, and there's a lot for parents to prepare

But your back-to-school checklist shouldn't just be for school supplies and clothes. It would help if you also took the time to talk to your child about their classmates with disabilities. 

Specifically, give your little one the resources they need to include their disabled peers into the mix. Here's what to teach your child so they can be more inclusive than ever. 

1. Start With Education on Disabilities

You can help your child learn about disabilities, which will make them a better ally. Have a conversation about disabilities with your little one so that they understand what such a diagnosis means. You can find plenty of resources on how to explain this in a way a kid will understand. 

Don't forget about your local library, either. You can check out books and movies that do a great job of explaining disabilities to kids, too. And it would help if you didn't underestimate the power of such literature — your child will understand literature written for their level of comprehension. 

Keep the conversation open, too. After reading a book, ask your child how they can apply what they learned to their classroom relationships. You'll be surprised at how intuitive they are — and how ready they are to try and include their classmates with disabilities in school.

2. Focus on Patience

It's a tough lesson to teach children, but patience with a disabled classmate can help them to forge a strong bond. 

You can help build patience by explaining to your child that those with disabilities can do everything they can — it just might take them a bit longer. If your little one has the grace to give their peer the time they need, they will be able to include them with ease. 

3. Provide Just Enough Information

Your son or daughter, especially if they're young, might get overwhelmed by too much information about disabilities and what they can do. 

So, feel free to hold back all of the details about child disabilities. Tell your little one what they need to know to understand their classmate and have compassion for them. 

In the end, your child doesn't have to be an expert on the topic. They just need to understand that all kids are different, and that's something to be celebrated. 

4. Talk About the Importance of Friendship

Even at a young age, your child started making friends. They probably even have a best friend or cherished playmate by now. 

As such, they can understand how important it is to have friends. Explain to your little one that this applies to all kids — even their classmates with disabilities. This point remains valid if the child is non-verbal or has other physical limitations that bar them from participating in every activity. 

5. Educate Yourself

You can't teach your child about disabilities if you don't know yourself. So, read up on our blog and other resources that can help you learn about disabilities — and pass that understanding onto your children. With advocates of all ages, the world will only get better — so start teaching yourself and your kids today. You can also join The Driving Force.

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