Encouraging Inclusion

Each child has their own individual strengths and their own individual needs.  Some children will need more support than others in order to  participate in activities at home, school and in the community.  There are many programs throughout the United States offering inclusive opportunities for children with special needs and their “typically developing” peers.

In 2009, the DEC (Division of Early Childhood) and NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) issued a position statement to clearly define inclusion in order for parents and educators to create true inclusive environments.  Their definition states, “early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities and society.”   This means that children with special needs are not merely in the same room as their typical peers, but that they are actively engaged in activities with their peers.

There are many ways parents, teachers and community leaders can encourage inclusion:

  • Create high expectations for every child to reach their full potential at home, in the classroom and in the community.
  • Treat every child as an individual and avoid comparing children based on their diagnosis.
  • Encourage collaboration and communication between parents, teachers, therapists and other medical and community professionals.
  • Provide opportunities for children to learn and grow using a variety of sensory rich and developmentally appropriate materials.
  • Provide accommodations to ensure that every child has access to learning environments.  If supports are needed, such as behavior management strategies, adaptive equipment,  alternative communication devices, etc., ensure that each child has the appropriate support system in place so they can be successful in activities with their peers.

Inclusion is a wonderful way for children to learn, grow and play together.  Creating and maintaining these inclusive programs is important in order to give every child an opportunity to reach their full potential.  After all, isn’t that what all parents, teachers and therapists want for ALL children – with and without special needs?

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