By: Vickie Robinson, Developmental Therapist & Kelly Lopresti, Director of Child Development
We truly feel an inclusive childcare environment is a wonderful experience for all Involved! With the recent 30th Anniversary of the Lily Garden Child Development Center here at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, we wanted to discuss all the benefits of an inclusive child care program and outline some ways to support children with special needs in your classroom. Children with special needs and typically developing peers benefit from an inclusive environment as well as teachers and family members.
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Students with Special Needs
- Friendships with same aged peers
- Increased social initiations, relationships, friendships and networks
- Peer role models for social, academic and behavior skills
- Increased achievement of therapy and Individual Family Service Plan/Individualized Education Program goals (IFSP/IEP)
- Greater access to general curriculum
- Enhanced skill acquisition and generalization
- Higher expectations
- Increased staff, parent and therapist collaboration
- Increased parent and teacher participation
- Families are more integrated into community
- Affords a sense of belonging
- Provides a stimulating environment for growth
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Typically Developing Students
- Meaningful friendships are cultivated
- Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity
- Develops respect for others with diverse characteristics
- Increases abilities to help others
- Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society
- Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others
- Greater academic outcomes
- Develops capacity for empathy
- All student’s needs are better met, greater resources for everyone
- Develops sensitivity toward others’ limitations
- Develops feelings of empowerment and the ability to make a difference
- Increases abilities to help others
In the California Department of Education’s Inclusion Works! Informational Booklet, they outline common modifications, adaptions and supports for an inclusive environment.
- Providing environmental supports:
- Using pictures or objects to signal next activities
- Making physical boundaries to decrease distraction
- Engineer classroom to support children of all abilities
- Lower hooks, make paths for children in wheel chairs
- Adapt materials. Examples include:
- Activity Simplification
- Simplify complicated tasks by breaking them into smaller parts. For example, give child materials for a task one piece at a time.
- Be Aware of Child Preferences
- Use motivating subjects, toys and games to promote learning, participation and interaction
- Use of Special Equipment
- Use adaptive devices to maximize and facilitate participation. Making sure child care staff are trained by parents and therapists to properly use adaptive or medical equipment.
- Make sure children who need physical support are positioned optimally and are encouraged to play on the same level as peers.
- Adult Support
- Make sure staff is trained and comfortable in working with all children in their classroom. Having permission to interact and learn from a child’s therapist is important. Knowing a child’s goals and beneficial supports will benefit the child.
- Peer Support
- Use classmates as models to help children learn.
- Teach children specific ways to engage and interact with a child with special needs.
- Invisible Support- Arrange naturally occurring events to assist in inclusion.
- Assign roles during children’s play, such as having a child with limited mobility be in charge of “pumping gas” as the children riding bikes go by.
- Comment on children’s play in ways that encourage further interaction.
To learn more about the Lily Garden Child Development Center, our inclusive child care center here at Easter Seals Dupage & Fox Valley please call Kelly Lopresti at 630.261.6283.