Using Special Interests to Supercharge your classroom
There are many ways to build on the strengths of neurodivergent folks, and leveraging special interests is at the top of the list. A special interest is not just a hobby or activity, but a part of life and serves as a support to cope through daily interactions. Meaningful activities need to be nurtured and celebrated—special interests lead to developing the imagination and expertise of valuable topics for neurodivergent students.
Special interests can mature into many positive outcomes, such as friendships, meaningful careers, and most importantly joy! We encourage you to implement special interests into your classroom and celebrate your students, here are 5 ways to do so:
Determine your student’s special interests.
Develop a relationship with your students, their families, and therapists. This will help form the best list of special interests for your students and how you can best support them in the classroom.
Incorporate special interests into your lesson plans.
There are several ways of creating lesson plans around special interests:
- Choosing books focused on a special interest that inspires reading
- Using objects to encourage counting
- Selecting a time period and writing a script to perform
The ideas are endless and can be easily crafted to best benefit your students’ needs.
Create a safe environment for sharing.
Make sure your students feel comfortable enough to share their special interests—encourage them to communicate with each other to find common interests and build friendships.
Creatively use special interests to drive different forms of instruction.
Special interests can be used to teach many skills:
- Social-Emotional skills
Get creative and use special interests to your student’s advantage, meet them where they are to craft relatable instruction.
Keep an updated list.
Special interests can change over time, be sure to build a connection and monitor interest changes that may occur over time.
We want to encourage you to celebrate your students’ special interests and find ways to creatively apply them in your classroom. Check out this article on how to incorporate special interests into your classroom—we hope it helps guide you to set goals for using special interests to not only drive classroom engagement but to support your neurodivergent students.
Let’s strive to create environments where special interests are encouraged and uplifted. Our team aims to empower neurodivergent youth and professionals to grow, play, and learn toward social-emotional success and self-advocacy through our game series and companion application platform.
Interested in getting Ava for your therapy center or school for engaging, empowering social-emotional learning? Schedule a chat with us!