An Inclusive Approach to Early Education
however, receive a special bonus. In learning to meet the special needs of children with disabilities, they become more skilled at meeting the needs of all children.
BENEFITS OF INCLUSION Benets for Children with Disabilities
In addition to the philosophical and legal issues discussed earlier, there are many clear benets of educating young children with special needs in inclusive programs. In a review of the research into developmental outcomes in inclu- sive settings, Lamorey and Bricker (1992) noted that generally, children made signicantly better gains in the areas of social competence and social play and similar gains in the other developmental domains. The improved benets in the social domain may be due to an emphasis on social development in programs that have implemented inclusive educational programming. There is also some evidence that the academic achievement of students with disabilities in inclu- sion settings is higher than that of students in segregated settings (Peters, 2004).
Children with developmental problems are likely to benet from a quality inclusive preschool experience because these programs feature:
more stimulating, varied, and responsive experiences than special class- rooms composed of children with limited skills.
curriculum activities that build on a child’s strengths and preferences rather than a decit model focused on what is wrong with the child.
opportunities to observe, interact with, and imitate children who have acquired higher-level motor, social, language, and cognitive skills.
implicit motivation to “try a little harder,” in that children without disabilities often expect and encourage improved behaviors on the part of less skilled children. As Peterson (1987) puts it: “A more demanding environment may push the child ahead to develop more appropriate behavior repertoires” (p. 359).
opportunities to learn directly from other children. It appears that certain skills are learned more easily from another child; the explanations and dem- onstrations often are closer to the child with developmental delay’s capabili- ties than are the adults’.
Research also indicates that inclusive settings are more stimulating and responsive to young children with disabilities than environments serving only children with special needs. There are greater demands for appropriate social behaviors. There are opportunities for observational learning and interactions with typical peers. Children with special needs also engage in higher levels of play when they are with typically developing children (Guralnick, 1990).
Benets for Typically Developing Children
Children who are developing normally may have greater access to early child- hood programs when there is full implementation of the preschool component
decit model curriculum
focuses on a child’s dis- abilities and delays; tries to remedy what is “wrong” with the child.