How to Support Inclusion
Many times an inclusive environment is not readily available to preschool age children because local school districts are only required by law to educate children with special needs between the ages of 3-5. However this does not preclude the possibility of achieving an inclusive environment for your preschool-age child. Below are ways to create and support an inclusive preschool environment.
- Develop a vision for your child's inclusion and be able to get others excited about the opportunity.
- Begin early in order to give yourself proper time to accomplish your goal.
- Develop a network of resources:
- Professionals and teachers who support your vision
- Consultants with expertise in inclusion
- Examples of other children who are being successfully included
- Classmates and friends of your child who might serve as supports
- Help to find time for teacher/professional collaboration and consultation. Be creative. This might include offering to bring lunch once a month to facilitate a collaborative meeting or offering to help with after-school tasks to free up a teacher's time to meet.
- Teachers and paraprofessionals, through consultation with the appropriate therapists, can learn to provide many direct services to children with special needs. This transfer of knowledge will likely help both your child as well as other children in the classroom.
- Facilitate communication between the various staff members involved with your child. Inclusion in a private pre-school or childcare setting will involve the private pre-school/child care staff as well as professionals from the local school district. Helping to ensure everyone is connected and that concerns are addressed can make a non-traditional inclusive setting work more effectively.
- Consider the use of grant money to support your efforts. Various business and not-for-profit organizations may have money available to support individuals with disabilities in an inclusive setting.
- Know your child's legal rights and be able to articulate them.
"What is Inclusion?" provides general information on inclusion.
"Why is Inclusion important?" provides a summary of the impact inclusion has on the people involved.