Inclusive Education in Practice:

In an increasing number of early childhood programs around the country, teachers, children and parents are discovering the benefits of educating young children with and without special needs side-by-side in inclusive classrooms, like those at TLC. The opportunity to learn along side peers of different developmental abilities offers unique benefits for all participating children.

All children come to situations where they may struggle. Children in inclusive classrooms realize this is a natural part of learning. Children asking for help is expected and encouraged. Teachers model to students how to approach and meet challenges. Children embrace difficulties with a problem-solving approach. They are taught to pay attention to their own needs and learning styles. Over time, children with and without disabilities come to recognize their differences and see them as part of what makes each of them unique, and part of what makes the world a special, diverse place.


What if my Child Doesn't Have a Special Need?

Research shows that the benefits of inclusive classrooms impact children of all abilities; the benefits of inclusion reach beyond academics to the whole child. This is particularly important for young children, who learn best when they feel safe, secure, and at home in their classrooms.

Children of any ability in inclusive classrooms:

Dr. Phil Strain of the University of Colorado, Denver, on the research findings supporting the importance of inclusive classrooms for children with special needs, autism, and typical abilities (no identified special need).

  • demonstrate increased self-esteem;
  • show greater development in critical thinking;
  • acquire new skills and knowledge independently;
  • create warm and caring friendships;
  • demonstrate increased acceptance and appreciation of diversity;
  • develop better communication and social skills; and
  • demonstrate leadership abilities.

Sometimes, concerns are raised about the advisability of creating inclusive environments:

  • Will inclusive classrooms hinder the academic success of children without special needs?
  • How will an inclusive environment meet the needs of children with disabilities?
  • Will children without special needs lose out on teacher time?  

Parents of children enrolled in inclusive programs will find that creative modifications help all children's learning. According to the director of one NAEYC-accredited early childhood education center, "Inclusion has helped us better focus on meeting the needs of every child in our program."


Pediatric Therapy in the Classroom:

TLC speech, occupation, and physical therapists work with their special needs children in the classroom alongside teachers, teaching aides, and children with typical and accelerated abilities. This inclusive classroom therapy benefits all children.

Therapists in the classroom come to know every child, regardless of whether or not a child is a pediatric therapy client, and can help teachers and teaching aides with teachable moments, safety supervision, and positive behavior development for all children. Special needs children who receive pediatric therapy in the classroom remain fully engaged with their peers and teacher throughout the day, and see their therapy as part of the regular learning experience. This inclusive model is part of best-practices for all children, and benefits both typical and special-needs children alike.