Inclusion means being included or the action of including within a group or structure. In the childcare center world, it means including children with special needs. This includes health needs and learning disabilities. There are many benefits to offering inclusiveness in your childcare center. Here is how to build an inclusive childcare center and what it has to offer both you and the children.
What Is an Inclusive Childcare Center?
Having an inclusive childcare center means that all of the children interact. This includes having children of a similar age in a classroom along with those who have special needs. Some might think that the special needs children get more attention or priority over the rest but this is simply not true. There are in fact studies that show that including all children together has benefits for both special needs students as well as those without special needs.
According to the theses, Inclusive Education: The Benefits and the Obstacles by Nicole M. McMillan:
Inclusive education not only provides benefits to students with disabilities but also to their non-disabled peers. McCarty (2006) states, “it appears that special needs students in regular classes do better academically and socially than comparable students in non-inclusive settings” (p.8). Some of these benefits include social aspects, higher academic standards, and removal of the social prejudice that exists for people with special needs.
This showcases that this type of inclusiveness not only helps the child with special needs but also helps the other children in the classroom – and the classroom as a whole.
Benefits Of An Inclusive Childcare Center
As mentioned, there are numerous benefits for the children of your childcare center. children with special needs have the chance to learn at their own pace while developing social and emotional skills. This is especially important with being around peers of a similar age. They have the ability to learn about how to deal with different situations, process thoughts, and doing it all without a typical controlled environment.
Along with forming relationships with peers, children with special needs meet adults that they might not normally have access to in an environment that is formative and caring. This gives them confidence and social-building skills that allow them to process and navigate their environment, as well as a love for learning.
For those with no development issues, they learn more about interacting with people who are different from them. This leads to having empathy and to develop leadership skills in helping the other children.
There are other benefits for special needs children as well, including:
- Learning by observation
- Forging relationships with non-parental adults
- Interacting with similarly-aged peers
- A supportive environment
- Learning at their own pace
- Forge relationships with other kids
- Exposure to a variety of challenges
- Social skills practice
For developing children, there are also added benefits:
- Learn more while teaching
- Acceptance and appreciation for those who are different from them
- Preparation in being an adult
Of course, the teacher in this environment provides an experience that is learned, positive, and all-encompassing. This includes
- Creating a place where everyone feels included
- Allowing children the ability to explore on their own
- Providing honest and straightforward answers
- Creating an atmosphere of community and interaction
- Ensuring that everyone in the classroom feels welcome and comfortable
- Encouraging interactions between developing students and those with special needs
With any change in your childcare center, there are things to consider within administration. It may take a while to fully implement it into your center but things will fall into place after a while. This is an ongoing process that takes time and patience but has many rewards.
Communication is Key
It is imperative to share the childcare center’s core values and mission to potential clients. Many people who are looking for childcare tend to shop around and this is the area where administration can excel in getting the goal across. By ensuring parents or guardians of how children with special needs are embraced and cared for, those with children who have special needs will be able to know what to expect.
Establish Support Systems
It is crucial to have a support system in place and stress to your teachers that you have their back. This can be done in many ways. For example:
- Professional development opportunities
According to Child Development and Early Learning: A Foundation for Professional Knowledge and Competencies by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine:
Studies have shown that providers who have participated in specialized professional development opportunities feel more confident in their knowledge and skills and provide higher quality experiences for all of the children.
- Keeping a connection with what is being discussed with the new changes
- Having enough support staff that includes relief staff
- Create a welcome environment by hosting community events
All of these components help segue your childcare center into one that is an inclusive center. Collaboration with specialists is imperative. They help those who work with special needs children and bring knowledge, discipline, and educational value.
Building an inclusive childcare center takes work and patience but the rewards are not limited to the school. Inclusive childcare centers help parents, guardians, developing children, and those who have special needs.
Honest Buck Accounting can help improve your school administration with our early childhood education and financial expertise, and this includes change you wish to make when building an inclusive childcare center.. Schedule a call with one of the team’s experts to learn how we can work together.