The inclusion of children suffering from disabilities in early childhood programs is associated with positive outcomes for both the children and their families. When done well, inclusion provides opportunities for all children to learn and grow together in the least restrictive environments.
There are some critical practices for high-quality early childhood inclusion that researchers have identified. These practices are the core of the Inclusive Classroom Profile (ICP), which is a field-tested observational tool for children ages 2-5.
Today’s article is adapted from the ICP manual and will introduce you to some of the 12 practices with real-world classroom examples.
Irrespective of disabilities, children can gain access to physical space, materials, and equipment. Through adult scaffolding strategies, children are assisted in gaining access to and using materials in purposeful ways when required. For example, teachers and assistants arrange classroom areas and materials in ways accessible to all children. However, the physical space, materials, and equipment are organized dynamically to encourage children’s social interactions and independence intentionally.
The classroom allows children to take part in activities and routines with peers while the adults can plan and implement social plays or other learning activities. They also provide scaffolding strategies to support positive, reciprocal, and sustained peer interactions between children.
Children watch adults exhibit fun while engaging with children during activities, and the children can decide on activities and playmates while adults observe children’s engagement in activities and support them.
Adults have to set boundaries and strict rules and have to consistently communicate about the rules with the children to encourage good behavior. Sometimes adults may need to intervene and resolve conflicts among children while acknowledging their views and feelings.
Adults must work together to create a classroom community where every child feels like they belong regardless of their differences; this can be accomplished by creating opportunities to assume equal roles and responsibilities.
Adults must seek out opportunities to interact with the children enthusiastically and cater to the individual child’s needs to the best of their abilities. Adults should maintain a positive attitude toward children and avoid showing any negative emotions directed toward them. Adults should also avoid favoring any specific child and maintain equality among children.
Adaptation of group activities
Adults should plan more group activities to engage children as a group, which further promotes socializing behavior and allows the children to learn to work as a team and cooperate when needed. Group activities should be light, fun, and adults must adapt to the unique needs of children when planning said group activities. Each child should feel like they are a vital aspect of the team.
Family and staff partnership
Procedures should be implemented daily to create valuable communication with the parents about their children.