Everywhere, around the globe, you can see how any difference will set a child apart from their peers. Whether it’s language, disability, etc. it’s important to recognize these differences and find a way to bring them together for general inclusiveness, social, and learning purposes in an inclusive education environment.
So, how does this happen? Let’s talk about inclusive education – what is it and why is it so important to children who are different?
What is Inclusive Education?
First things first, and most importantly, what is inclusive education?
Inclusive education is simply based on the thought that every single child and family member is equally valued and deserves the same experiences and opportunities as anyone else. The idea is specifically for children with disabilities, whether an intellectual disability, developmental disability, physical disability, etc. Nothing is too big or too small for inclusive education, it is meant for anyone who feels left out of learning experiences, social interactions, and any other everyday activities.
The process involves ensuring that all students have access to support, high-quality instruction, and interventions in general education classes that are appropriate for their age.
Having an inclusive school means creating a culture that is both respectful and collaborative for everyone in attendance. Students with any disabilities are able to develop more positive social relationships with their peers, fully participate in the community of the school, and are equally valued in every aspect of the system.
So, what benefits does this type of education really have to offer students with disabilities and their families?
Why is Inclusive Education so Important?
Here are some of the top reasons that inclusive education is so important.
- It Supports Civil Rights
More important than anything else, inclusive education is a big part of upholding civil rights.
Students with disabilities have the right to attend a typical school as well as general education classes like anyone else would.
In the United States, everyone is to receive equal opportunities. When certain people are marginalized or separated from mainstream experiences, they are not afforded the same opportunities as everyone else.
When students are able to participate in an inclusive school and community, they are provided with a more equal social and learning experience than if they were separated into another program.
- Belonging and Acceptance
Feeling like you belong and are accepted is important for anyone, and this feeling should extend to children in school.
It’s important for children to be introduced to and interact with those who may not learn or perform tasks the same way they do. It lets them learn more about the differences others may have and allow them to become more accepting, empathetic, and inclusive themselves.
- Improved Learning Experiences
The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 also referred to as NLTS2, shows that there is a relationship between academic performance/social adjustment and the percentage of courses that students with disabilities taken in general education classrooms.
The progress includes, but is not necessarily limited to:
- Increased social and communication skills
- More focused learning time
- More friendships
- Better literacy skills
- Improved IEPs
In addition to being included in general education classrooms, inclusive education means that each and every student is expected to contribute equally to society and that those with differences will receive the support they need to benefit from instruction.
- Lower Rates of Suspension and Dropping Out
The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 also saw that the more time students spent in a general education classroom resulted in fewer disruptive behavior referrals, fewer school absences, and better employment and independent living results after high school.
More friendships and a better sense of belonging will make a big difference for a child and could result in much better behavior and even more excitement and willingness to go to school.
- A Better Sense of Community Living
Last but certainly not least, children who have the opportunity to experience inclusive education are given a better sense of community. Having this is especially helpful when they graduate high school, as that will improve community living, further education, and competitive employment.
If a child is segregated throughout their schooling experience, this doesn’t exactly lead to adjusting easily to integrated community life as an adult. When they instead grow up by learning together in school with students of varied abilities, backgrounds, interests, etc. they are exposed to a lot more diversity and are more prepared for the world outside of school.
Unfortunately, there can be misconceptions about people with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and so on. The absolute best way to overcome these misconceptions is by bringing children of all backgrounds and abilities together for shared activities and learning.
Advancing Inclusive Education
So, what can be done to advance inclusive education?
It’s vitally important to make sure that the educators involved have the proper resources, flexibility, and training to teach students with diverse learning styles and needs. On top of this, schools will also need sustainable and substantial financial support to ensure that services and activities are completely inclusive.
The entire community will need to be enabled to work together and help create and monitor inclusive education to ensure it is set up and done as it should be. Also, parents will need to become empowered to assert their children’s right to an education in fully inclusive settings.
Lastly, it’s important to focus on local and national governments and hold them accountable for legislation and policies to remove barriers and enforce anti-discrimination laws.
Learning More About Inclusive Education
If you are interested in learning more about inclusive education, disabilities, and resources for those who have different needs, Moms in Motion can help!
Check out our blog for further news and information for and about people with disabilities.