Parents of school-age children can often become bewildered by today’s education system and it’s expectations. Its quickly evolving nature makes it hard to keep up with the latest teaching methods, the many types of tests our children are receiving, and the technology they are using in the classroom. Parents of school age children with special needs however, have even more information to sift through – they need to also understand Individual Education Plans, special education acronyms, and different types of services that are available in special education. In short, the education system can completely overwhelm even the most knowledgeable people!
Inclusive education is one such term that is often used in special education as it is considered by special education experts to be the ideal situation for educating children with special needs. Sadly, however, the concept of inclusive education is often misunderstood. If you are a parent of a special needs child who is in an inclusive classroom or being considered for inclusive placement, this article will give you a brief overview of inclusive education and 5 things you need to know.
ALWAYS TOGETHER - A truly inclusive environment is one in which a special needs child is a fully active member of a general education classroom – not just for PE, Art or Music – but for all subjects. An inclusive school provides equal access to school routines and programs. Lunch and recess are together, students participate in assemblies and extracurricular activities are timed to include as many children and families as possible. Inclusion is a way of interacting with one another, not a place to go to for an hour every day.
ALWAYS PARTICIPATING - Inclusion promotes social interactions between students, teachers, parents and school. Relationships develop and are strengthened in an inclusive environment.
ALWAYS SUPPORTED - Support services for children with special needs are brought
to the child in the classroom through paraprofessionals and resource staff. Parents are also included in this process! Inclusive classroom teachers have a significant understanding of the various needs that students have and use resources, support staff and assistive technology to meet those needs.
ALWAYS LEARNING- Inclusion provides opportunity and equal access to schooling regardless of child’s ability level. Inclusive practice benefits ALL learners in the classroom. It involves accommodating and modifying the curriculum to reach all learners. Students become more engaged, feel more successful and develop confidence in their ability to learn. Inclusion promotes a greater understanding of diversity and the world in which we live.
ALWAYS WELCOME – children with special needs are welcomed in the inclusive school, regardless of ability, age and needs!
Inclusive classrooms are places where all students can learn and thrive. The decision to place a special needs child in an inclusive class is best made between parents, teachers and the school. Parents can support this process by educating themselves on the social, emotional and intellectual benefits of inclusive education. However, parents should stay involved with their child’s education throughout the school year (through communication with teacher, volunteer work, and/or attendance at school events) to help ensure that their child is continuing to receive the best education possible.