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CHAPTER 1

An Inclusive Approach to Early Education

7

Denition of Early Childhood Inclusion

Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that sup- port the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belong- ing and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and develop- ment and learning to reach their full potential. The dening features of inclusion that can be used to identify high quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports.

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1-1

The Division for Early Child- hood and the National Association for the Educa- tion of Young Children joint position statement. Early Childhood Inclusion.

coordinated. This document is anticipated to have signicant positive impact on the early childhood eld. This shared denition of inclusion is found in Figure 1-1 .

Jerlean Daniel, Deputy Executive Director of NAEYC, summarizes the need for this shared denition as follows:

Early childhood nally has a clear denition of inclusion. It is amazing that we have gone this long without a denition for an idea that gives children with and without disabilities an equal opportunity to learn together. In its place, with the best of intentions, individuals, programs and schools have created their own working denitions based upon interpretations of federal laws, and the idio- syncrasies and politics of assorted venues where young children with disabili- ties are served. The DEC/NAEYC joint position statement on Early Childhood Inclusion’s designation of the three primary components of inclusion, access, participation, and support offer the eld a rich, substantive framework for what it means to serve all children well. (Early Childhood Community, 2009)

INCLUSION IN PERSPECTIVE Early Attitudes

The number of children with disabilities in the educational mainstream has increased steadily over the past thirty years. This is in marked contrast to the way children with disabilities were viewed in the past. Caldwell (1973) gives the following description of the stages our society has gone through in its treat- ment of people with disabilities.

Forget and hide

Until the middle of the twentieth century, families, communities, and society in general seemed to try to deny the existence of people with disabilities. As much as possible, children with disabilities were kept out of sight. For example, fami- lies often were advised immediately to institutionalize an infant with an obvious disability such as Down syndrome.

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