Supporting Inclusive Learning Environments (page 2)
Supporting Inclusive Learning Environments
Opportunities for learning occur as part of typical life activities, and routines both planned and spontaneous. Inclusion of children with differing abilities, children from diverse cultures, and children learning English as a second language fosters caring attitudes and teaches children about interdependence and acceptance of human differences. In high quality early childhood programs, inclusion is simply an example of the regular practice of meeting the individual needs of each child and family.
All children have the right to the supports, resources, and services they need to participate actively and meaningfully in any early childhood setting. All early care and education programs must be prepared to work together with families, follow the lead of parents, make referrals when appropriate, collaborate with children’s IFSP/IEP teams, modify/adapt program activities and routines (make reasonable accommodations), and implement appropriate interventions within the context of the early childhood setting.
All children and families benefit from inclusive learning environments.
Children with a Wide Range of Abilities
The following are some general accommodations that can be made to support children with special learning or developmental needs. More specific accommodation suggestions can be found in each individual section of these Guidelines. This is a sampling of the types of accommodations that might be made and should not be considered a complete list. Many of these strategies are ones that can be used by adults to support the growth and learning of all children and in all settings.
- Provide adaptive equipment and materials when the child needs support
- Provide adult assistance/support as the child initiates action, then reduce support when the child shows ability to do some actions independently
- Provide opportunities for interaction with typically developing peers
- Add new and/or specific activities as needed to meet individual needs
- Modify materials and activities so the child can participate as independently as possible
- Engage other children as models, helpers, and friends to provide praise and encouragement
- Ensure that naturally occurring events, such as opportunities to use materials both independently and cooperatively, are purposefully arranged so the child has learning opportunities
- Provide visual supports (pictures, drawings, labels, color coding, picture schedules, etc.)
- Assure that child care homes, centers, and preschool environments meet the needs of all children
Children from Diverse Cultures
For the curriculum to be developmentally appropriate, it must be individually and culturally appropriate to each child. Therefore, the children, their families, society, teachers, and caregivers are important resources for an anti-bias, multicultural curriculum (Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992).
Some children may speak a home language, or first language, other than English, thus calling upon the adults to extend the child’s learning of a new language while supporting and strengthening the home language. Linguistic and cultural diversity must be integrated into all aspects of the program. Children have stories, songs, dances, art, traditions, celebrations, beliefs, and values that are unique to their culture and experience. The adult uses opportunities to integrate each child and family’s cultural uniqueness into the curriculum and weave it into the fabric of everyday learning experiences.
By being mindful of each child’s culture, adults can achieve the goals of empathy, respect, and understanding that characterize a multicultural classroom. All children learn about the world when they learn about each other.
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