What does inclusive education mean?
Inclusive education means teaching all children together in the same setting. Inclusive programs celebrate children’s similarities as well as their different abilities, cultures and backgrounds.
In inclusive classrooms, children with special needs take part in the general education curriculum; special education teachers and therapists adapt the curriculum and classroom to meet individual education needs.
Inclusion is the principle that supports the education of children with disabilities alongside their non-disabled peers, rather than separately. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act (Sec. 504) require schools and agencies to provide equal education opportunities for children with disabilities.
What are the benefits of inclusive education?
Similar to children in a mixed age classroom, inclusive education has multiple benefits for both students with and without disabilities:
- Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others
- Strengthened social emotional development
- Increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences
- Builds empathy and problem solving skills
- Increases understanding and acceptance of diversity
- Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society
In a high quality and inclusive early learning program, classroom teachers work to foster development, friendship with peers, and a sense of belonging by intentionally promoting participation in all learning and social activities. Families, partnering with teachers, play an important role in building a welcoming community where all strengths are recognized and everyone belongs.