Making Sound Preschool LRE Decisions Meaningful Inclusion in Early Childhood
In this activity, participants respond to a video featuring parents and providers describing the impact of inclusive practices on the students in their programs, and create a list of strategies and positive outcomes from supportive structures. The contents of the list can impact Making Sound Preschool LRE Decisions. Participants will also consider ways to share facts with programs, families, and communities to dispel myths about inclusive settings. (45-60 min.)
Video: Meaningful Inclusion in Early Childhood
Video courtesy Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
How can a school meaningfully include students with disabilities in an early childhood program? In moving interviews, parents in this video reveal the benefits for their children. Educators describe what they do and how they got there. These stories come from the Sun Prairie (Wisconsin) Area School District, where inclusion is the norm for all early childhood programs supported by public dollars, whether offered in community or district settings. (6 min.)
After watching the video, ask participants to identify some of the inclusive practices they witnessed, and note how these strategies impact the families' experiences. Facilitate a discussion using the following questions:
- What advantages do children get from the shift of pulling children with identified disabilities into childcare settings, to joint ownership of all children belonging in the same setting by the whole team (regular education teachers, special education teachers and therapists)?
- What are some intentional strategies that special education teachers, OT/PT therapists, or others modeled that you have implemented?
- Families noted how much it meant for them to see the relationships built between their children and the other children in the group. What intentional moments do you build into your schedule to support relationships among all children in the classroom?
- How can you embed meaningful interactions?
- Given the importance of inclusive settings for children with and without disabilities, how do you share this message with other staff and families who are less aware of the value of inclusive settings and the benefits to all children?
- How can stories like this impact programs in your community? What myths and challenges exist about the impacts of inclusion for children with and without disabilities?
Options and Related Activities
Operationalizing High-Quality Inclusion
Review the Early Care and Educational Environment Indicators and Elements of High-Quality Inclusion. Select and operationalize 3 practices that can support inclusion in your setting.
- What does it look like? What is said? How does it work?
- Identify ways in which families are currently involved in early care and education environment activities. Identify other ways that might be possible.
- How have you used children as instructional agents in the past? How can you capitalize on the strengths and abilities of all children, including children identified as having disabilities?
- How do you construct social opportunities throughout the day? Where can you embed more social opportunities into routines?
- How can you highlight the value and benefits of inclusion and celebrate family experiences around your inclusive classroom experience with others (for example, a flyer, video, or social media post)?