The Concept of Inclusive Education and Understanding Children with Special Needs

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Inclusive education is a relatively controversial topic for many parents and educators. The idea behind inclusive education is that students with special needs will be placed in the same classroom environment as other students their age who do not have special needs.

Within inclusive education, there are two main branches of thinking: mainstreaming and full inclusion. Mainstreaming is a process that allows children with special needs to enter certain standard classrooms after they show the ability to keep up with the rest of their peers.

Full inclusion puts students with special needs in standard classroom environments without testing or demonstration of skills. Individuals that support full inclusion believe that all children belong in the same classroom environment no matter what.

Why Is Inclusion Important?

While feelings about inclusive education are still somewhat mixed, many studies show that children with special needs thrive in standard classroom environments for a variety of different reasons.

On an interpersonal level, inclusive education allows children to develop friendships with their peers and feel less social tension about their disabilities. Some people believe that children who are placed in standard classroom environments generally have higher self-esteem than children who are isolated to different classrooms simply because they have special needs.

Other studies show that children with special needs actually learn more in regular classroom environments, provided they get the help and support they need in and out of the classroom when it comes to academic subjects. Groups that oppose inclusive education often maintain the position that children without special need will be forced to learn at a slower pace, but in practice, this is easily avoided by qualified teachers.

Children Want to Be Included

The need to feel included or to belong to a group is strong in most children. Children that are relegated to special classes or schools because they have special needs may develop self-esteem and image issues that could stay with them the rest of their life, making it difficult for them to feel like they belong as adults.

Unfortunately, that can lead to lifelong interpersonal problems, and problems related to employment and daily life.

Children Have the Right to Be Included

According to the Children with Disabilities Act, children with special needs have the right to be educated with nondisabled children their own age. The Children with Disabilities Act also states that children should have access to the same general curriculum taught to students without disabilities.

Simply put, children have the right to a quality education, no matter what special needs they may have. No single school has the right to deny education to children and families who want the best for their child simply because he or she has a disability.

Focus on Your Child’s Needs

The idea of inclusive education has actually garnered more attention recently because of NBC’s popular television show, Parenthood. On the show, a main character named Max, has autism, and he and his parents make the decision that he will attend a mainstream school.

Many parents are making similar decisions for their children, and as the idea of inclusive education spreads, it’s likely to become more and more common, to the benefit of many children with special needs.

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Inclusive education is becoming more and more common all over the world.

What You Should Consider When Looking Into Childcare for Special Needs Children

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Over 50% of parents put their young children in a day care during working hours. Some parents need their children to be watched while they are at work while others are looking to socialize their kids. Either way, there are a few things to consider when you are choosing a daycare center for your child –especially your special needs child.

  • Licensing In most states you are only allowed to watch 3 children, if not your own, without being licensed by the state. Laws may vary state to state, so check out what yours may require if you’re worried about a specific institutions regulations.

    Having a license ensures the facilities your child will be in are safe and clean. They follow laws and regulations put into place by your specific state and in some cases the government.

    Licensing also assures you that the staff are well-educated caretakers. They have to go through a specific interviewing process and probation period to make sure they are the right people to be working with children.

  • Organization Reviews The internet is full of a wealth of information on business today, including the child care facility you may want to place your child in. Go online and research what other parents and families have said about about the institution.

    This will give you a great idea of the overall quality of care children are receiving and may ultimately help you make the decision to send your child to this place –or not.

  • Personal Character Personal character is quite important when working with special needs children. You want to find child care providers that are patient, loving and nurturing. This will ensure your child is taken care of properly.

    Most child care centers allow you to stick around for a day or two with your child to watch them during lunch, snack and recess times. You can usually also participate in art activities. Ask your local child care center if you can bring your child for a day to see if the center is the right fit for the both of you.

  • Background Checks Most licensed facilities require their staff to go through a thorough background check. Although, this may vary state to state. Ask your local center if their staff has been checked locally, statewide and nationwide.

    If you are uncomfortable with the idea that staff have not been required to have a background check done, you can make the choice to take your child somewhere else.

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  • Educated Staff

    One of the most important things to pay attention to when choosing a childcare center for your child is the particular staff’s education. Not all workers are required to have degrees in education. Some young teachers may be working toward them.

    If the staff at the institution you are looking at are not educated in child development, you should at least make certain they are willing to understand your child’s issue and needs and work with them.

    New policies may need to be put in place for your child, so you need to find people that will work with you on that count.

  • Government Funding

    Unfortunately, special needs education is the most underfunded education system in the United States. Finding a daycare center that has funding for the government may be quite difficult, but could weigh heavily in your favor.

    Government funded centers have better resources for your special needs children such as: specifically designated programs, one on one time and plenty of resources for staff to learn how to give the best possible care to your children.

    The adaptive playground pictured above was funded by the government. It allows children in wheelchairs to play with classmates on the same play structure.

Remember to keep licensing, organization reviews and personal character in mind when choosing a childcare center for your special needs child. This will ensure they are getting the best care possible and hopefully be able to make new friends, learn and grow.

 

Are Private Schools for Children With Special Needs a Good Option for Families?

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Depending on where you live, you’ll likely find one or more schools designed for children with special needs in your area. Generally, these schools are private, and charge families tuition fees for their children to attend.

In many cases, private schools for children with special needs are open to children with all types of disabilities. However, some schools choose to focus more on helping children with certain special needs to achieve their academic goals.

Skilled, Understanding Staff

One main benefit of choosing to put your child in a private school for children with special needs is that they will be surrounded by staff members that understand their needs – staff members that are skilled and understanding when it comes to helping and teaching children with disabilities.

While many public schools do have programs for children with special needs, they tend to have larger classroom environments, and they may not get the special attention that they need to learn at an optimal level. With a private school that’s less likely to happen because funding isn’t an issue since each family pays an annual tuition.

Tailored Education Plans

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Unlike public schools that often try to teach many children with different special needs in the same classroom, private schools designed specifically for children with special needs tend to develop education plans for each student. For many students, this allows them to learn in a way that is better suited to their particular needs.

For example, a child with severe dyslexia will require a different education plan than a child with mild dyslexia in many cases. In a private school environment, the differences between the ways these two children learn will not be glossed over.

Will My Child Learn as Much?

In general, children who attend private schools for students with special needs learn just as much or more than children who attend regular public schools. This is usually because of the aforementioned tailored education plans and more individual attention.

In some cases, classes may move slower than they would at a regular public school. However, this is only so that students that require a slower pace can fully grasp and retain the material being taught to them.

How Much Does Private School Cost?

Private school, whether it’s for children with special needs or not, can be expensive. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to give a range as to how much private school will cost your family on a yearly basis since a variety of factors like where you live, how well trained the staff is and what the school’s educational goals are with each student will affect the price of tuition.

However, private schools for children with special needs will often work with parents to come up with a flexible payment plan, allowing them to pay tuition in installments instead of on a quarter, semester or annual schedule. Some private schools even have fee waivers for parents whose children have special needs but cannot afford the full tuition.