8 Ways to Boost Confidence in Students with Learning Disabilities

Without having the right tools in place, students with learning disabilities may have a hard time at school. Having learning disabilities does not just make it harder for students with special needs to do well at school. If they do not believe they are capable of success, achievement will be more difficult and can undermine their confidence. Special needs classes must implement strategies to build the confidence of their students.

1. Special needs classes should set realistic goals

To build confidence, students need to feel a sense of accomplishment. This is easier when you set realistic goals to allow regular achievements. Setting goals that are too high can lead to failure, which might discourage further attempts.

2. Have different ways of measuring progress

Mainstream schools may focus on exams and grades, but those are not the only forms of success. For students in special needs schools, progress may also be shown in improved social interaction or a range of other life skills. Finding different ways to measure these elements enables students to mark off more accomplishments and take pride in them.

3. Celebrate small successes

Even with smaller goals and different forms of assessment, a student with special needs may take more time to achieve goals. This means it is important to celebrate every small success to reinforce the idea that they are making progress and moving in the right direction.

4. Give them choices

Part of being confident is feeling like you have control over your own life. This means being able to make your own choices rather than having someone else dictate them to you. Whenever possible, it is wise to let students actively participate in the decision-making progress.

5. Identify their strengths

Instead of comparing a student to other children, especially those without special needs, make an active effort to identify each individual’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Embracing their strengths enables them to feel more confident in themselves.

6. Make use of their interests

Many students with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum, will have strong special interests. Finding ways to incorporate these into their classes will ensure they are more engaged. The lessons will feel more relevant, and they will feel more confident in their own participation.

7. Emphasize experiences in addition to lessons

School is more than just written assignments or paperwork. Students should have opportunities to participate in more hands-on experiences, whether it’s in after-school clubs or the local community. This means more opportunities to engage, build relationships, develop different types of skills, find their strengths and plan for the future.

8. Explore the future beyond the special needs classroom

Does the student want to go on to further education? Do they want a career? What type of career? It is easy to have a narrow view about what the future could be for a student with special needs, but give them an opportunity to explore different options, identify what they really want to do, and create a plan to achieve it. Knowing there is something worth working toward can help build confidence.


Building confidence is important in the special needs classroom to help student’s reach their full potential. Luckily, there are many different strategies you can use to help your students feel like achievement is possible and that one day they will be able to go out into the world and be successful.