What is Inclusion?
The principle behind inclusion is that all children should be educated together, and the supports and services should follow the child into the setting they would attend if they didn't have a disability. Research indicates children with disabilities learn from their peers who are typically developing and that all children benefit when supports and services are pushed into a typical classroom setting.
In their report "The Business of Early Care and Education in Illinois" (2008) the ISBE states:
Inclusion of children with disabilities and their families in early care and education, as well as other community settings, is rooted in the concept of equity. Two central components of inclusion are access or enrollment in early care and education, and participation, which involves active engagement in activities in settings that promote learning and development. Young children with disabilities do not require different activities or experiences for learning to occur. However, they do need specific, individualized supports comprised of evidence-based instructional strategies (e.g. adaptations, individualized instructional strategies, modified curriculum and/or environment, and weaving interventions into routines) to benefit from learning opportunities. High-quality early care and education services for all children require coordinated efforts across the service delivery spectrum, including child care, general education, special education, health care, mental health, and social services. Collaboration is the key to achieving high-quality inclusive services! (p. 28)
Since inclusive programs are not yet the norm for early childhood, parents will most likely need to advocate for and facilitate this type of opportunity for their child.
The following resources further clarify the need for and importance of inclusive settings for young children:
- The National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) is working to support research and inclusive practices at state and local levels. Their site provides a portal to find many professional articles and presentations surrounding early childhood inclusion.
- Joint Position Statement on Inclusion of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (PDF)
- "One of Us: Access and Equity for All Young Children," (PDF) is a publication by ISBE about two model inclusive school districts in Illinois
- ISBE resources on inclusion in preschool
- "Facilitating Inclusion in Community Settings: Creating Environments that Support the Communication and Social Interaction of Young Children by Martha L. Venn, Dale B. Fink, Sarah Hadden, and Susan A. Fowler discusses the importance of inclusion for children with speech delays.
Organizations that help parents and districts support inclusive practices include:
- Illinois Early Learning Project
- Inclusion Network
- Kids Together
- National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
- Pacer Center Early Inclusion Can Teach Children
- PEAK Parent Center
- Project CHOICES
Learn ways to support your child in an inclusive setting.
Learn why inclusion is important.