WHAT IS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION?
WHY IS INCLUSION IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CHILD?
Do you have a child with an intellectual or developmental disability that impacts their academic performance and their ability to learn at the same rate as their peers?
This section will provide some resources that can be helpful as parents address the issue of education for their child. In this section we will discuss:
- WHAT exactly is inclusion?
- WHO can and should be included?
- WHY is inclusion important?
- HOW can we make inclusion a successful experience for all students?
What is inclusion?
Inclusion is the process of educating a child with a disability in the general education classroom alongside their peers without disabilities. Inclusion begins with consideration of the general education classroom and the neighborhood school. The general education classroom is the best place to begin when we consider your child’s needs in his/her education. Inclusion is referred to as the “least restrictive environment” and means that we first consider the general education classroom and needed supports before we consider placing a child in a special education classroom. This decision of placement is made by the ARD committee, which consists of school personnel and the parents. Here are some good resources that can help define inclusion for parents:
- Visit the website, www.inclusiveschools.org, and go to the Resources section to find the 15 minute on-line learning mini-course titled INCLUSION BASICS. This course will define inclusion, present the benefits and characteristics of good inclusion, and discuss the law and barriers to successful inclusion that exist in some schools.
- www.inclusiveschooling.com/articles/ presents an article entitled, Achieving Inclusion: What Every Parent Should Know About Advocating for Their Child. This article defines inclusion and presents one family’s story of inclusive education.
- Check out a Ted Talk video “Disabling Segregation” by Dan Habib, a parent talking about their journey to ensure an inclusive education for their child. This video presents thoughts about how inclusion benefits not just the child being included, but all of us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izkN5vLbnw8
- The next You Tube video is also from a parent named Torrie Dunlap. Torrie’s talk is “Isn’t It a Pity” and speaks to the need for inclusion throughout our communities and why we need to change our thinking when it comes to special needs. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ7QaCFbizo
Who can and should be included?
Now that you have learned a little bit about inclusion you may still be asking, Is inclusion right for my child? We encourage you to watch some of the five videos linked below and then ask yourself the question again. We believe that the general education classroom is the correct and appropriate setting for every child, regardless of their disability or the issues that are created because of that disability. As the linked article states: Sometimes we need to see examples of inclusion to really understand that IT IS POSSIBLE and happening all over the world. https://www.thinkinclusive.us/5-videos-that-will-change-your-mind-about-inclusive-education/
Why is inclusion important for every child?
There has been quite a bit of research which documents the benefits of inclusion including: higher academic achievement, particularly improved reading skills; greater gains in behavioral and social skills; increased independence; and higher self-esteem. We are sharing two resources which present the benefits of inclusion that have been found through research.
- The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion http://fullinclusionforcatholicschools.org has a mission to inspire schools to begin the process of becoming inclusive; to educate school teachers, administrators and parents on what it takes to become inclusive; and to provide educational research and real life experiences that support inclusion. Navigate to the tab “Research That Supports Inclusion” for a variety of articles on the benefits and effects of inclusive programs for students with disabilities. The following is the direct link to the information. http://fullinclusionforcatholicschools.org/research-that-supports-inclusion/
How can a parent work with the school
Once you have determined that inclusive education is important for your child, this section will be helpful as you work to partner with your local school to identify ways to include their student successfully into general education.
Many students with Down Syndrome can be successfully educated in the general education classroom through in-class supports that are provided by either a special education teacher or a special education para-educator.
- Return to inclusiveschools.org website to find the article titled, Increasing the Effectiveness of In-Class Supports. This section describes how special and general educators can work together to improve inclusive practices in the classroom. https://inclusiveschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hot-Topics-Co-Teach.pdf
- The website theinclusiveclass.com gives information and tips for including all learners in a general education classroom. There is a great collection of inclusion articles for Parents at this link: http://www.theinclusiveclass.com/2014/11/index-of-articles.html. The article entitled, How Parents and Teachers can Work Together in the Inclusive Classroom, is highly recommended. Additionally, there is another collection of articles for Teachers at this link: http://www.theinclusiveclass.com/2015/01/inclusion-articles-for-teachers.html
- Many good resources and ideas for supporting inclusion can be found at the website of Dr. Paula Kluth, PaulaKluth.com. At this site click on the Readings section. Be sure to look at the ideas under the Differentiating Instruction section.
- Successful inclusion often depends upon parents and teachers identifying the most appropriate accommodations and modifications for an individual child. The website understood.org provides a wealth of suggestions in this area. Once you are at the website go to the search section and enter, “Classroom Accommodations to Help Students with Learning and Attention Issues.”
- Our final website suggestion is wrightslaw.com. This resource focuses on the legal aspects of serving students with disabilities. Look at the long list of topics covered and click on “LRE/Inclusion” for FAQs, Articles, and Caselaw about Inclusion.