What are Inclusive Education and special needs about?
* It is about acknowledging that all children and youth can learn and that all children and youth need support. * It is accepting and respecting the fact that all learners are different in some way and have different learning needs which are equally valued and an ordinary part of our human experience. * It is about enabling education structures, systems and learning methodologies to meet the needs of all learners. * Acknowledging and respecting differences in learners, whether due to age, gender, ethnicity, language, class, and disability or HIV status. * It is broader than formal schooling and acknowledging that learning also occurs in the home and community, and within formal and informal modes and structures. * It is about changing attitudes, behaviour, teaching methodologies, curricula and the environment to meet the needs of all learners. * It is about maximising the participation of all learners in the culture and the curricula of educational institutions and uncovering and minimising barriers to learning. * It is about empowering learners by developing their individual strengths and enabling them to participate critically in the process of learning. * Inclusion is about recognising and respecting the differences among all learners and building on the similarities. * Inclusion is about supporting all learners, educators and the system as a whole so that the full range of learning needs can be met. The focus is on teaching and learning actors, with the emphasis on the development of good teaching strategies that will be of benefit to all learners. * Inclusion focuses on overcoming barriers in the system that prevent it from meeting the full range of learning needs. The focus is on the adaptation of and support systems available in the class- room.
It is clear that some learners may require more intensive and specialised forms of support to be able to develop to their full potential.
Building an Inclusive Education system in Preschool
A broad range of learning needs exists among the learner population at any point in time, and where these are not met, learners may fail to learn effectively or be excluded from the learning system. In this regard, different learning needs arise from a range of factors, including physical, mental, sensory, neurological and developmental impairments, psycho-social disturbances, and differences in intellectual ability, particular life experiences or socio-economic deprivation. Different learning needs may also arise because of:
* Negative attitudes to and stereotyping of differences.
* An inflexible curriculum.
* Inappropriate languages or language of learning and teaching. * Inappropriate communication.
* Inaccessible and unsafe built environments.
* Inappropriate and inadequate support services.
* Inadequate policies and legislation.
* The non-recognition and non-involvement of parents.
* Inadequately and inappropriately trained educators.
Studies indicate that inclusion prepares children with disabilities for the real world, results in higher developmental outcomes, develops improved communication and social skills, and promotes relationships with peers. Research also indicates that when implemented properly, inclusion does not inhibit the development of children who do not have disabilities, and that it helps them to be more accepting of diversity.
If a school suspects that a child in the program may have a disability, school personnel should discuss their concerns with the child’s parent(s) and inform them of the availability of special education services for children who are found eligible. If the parents share these concerns, the child should be referred for an individual evaluation.
There is a great deal to be gained from parents and teachers communicating and collaborating. Over the years, teachers and service providers change, while the...
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