An inclusive program should ‘look’ and ‘feel’ the same as any other. It is a safe space, one where providers recognize and respect every child as an individual with capabilities as unique as they are. Where every child in your care, those with or without disabilities are given equal opportunity and access to the same quality programming.
Within an inclusive environment, children with special needs will learn through observation and interaction with both their peers and the adults who care for them, they develop relationships and build on social skills, all valuable skill sets for the future, and with the right resources, guidance and support, they have the freedom to learn at their own pace.
Typically developing children also stand to benefit from a model such as this. They gain an increased sense of appreciation, acceptance and respect for the individual differences of their peers.
Being a part of an inclusive environment can also help them build on and practise a new skill, gain confidence and grow their self-esteem, simply by teaching others.
While there are many advantages to integration within a childcare setting, there are also many considerations and practises that need to be put into place, such as specialized instruction and support for both staff and students as needed. This can come in the form of relief staff, specialized training and support for staff, collaborating with special ed staff to create an individual plan for the student and more.
Integration does not come without challenge, but the product is great.