A special day class is an intensive educational program designed for children with special needs. A child may be eligible for this program if he or she suffers from severe mental or emotional disorders and learning disabilities. These problems must be severe enough so as to cause a child difficulty in performing in a regular school setting or in alternative less-intensive special education programs, or to be at risk for harming himself and/or other classmates.
This program focuses on helping children develop social skills and self-control. Attention to the academic curriculum is also important, however, children that need a special day class are often intellectually capable of learning the material. In this case, learning disabilities may be a symptom of emotional problems, and therefore must be addressed before the child can fulfill his or her academic potential.
The range of intelligence level of children in this program measured by IQ can vary from below average to exceedingly high. As such, their academic instruction is usually adapted by an Independent Educational Plan (IEP) to fit each child’s individual needs and capabilities. Children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Asperger’s Syndrome, or autism, as well as some gifted children, often require and benefit from a special day class.
A special day class normally consists of a very small number of students, generally with a maximum class size of ten students. It is held in a structured setting where students stay in one or two rooms for the entire day. The class is usually held during the same hours as a normal school setting, unless the child is incapable of enduring the length of a typical school day. The room is staffed with at least one teacher who is trained in special education as well as assistants who help to provide the children with individualized instruction.
The program is designed to help children become successfully integrated within their community. Most aim to get children to the point where they can return to school with their peers and eventually live a healthy and productive life.