Somerville School Committee Long Range Goal #3
Increase inclusion opportunities for special education students.
The Benefits of Inclusive Education
Here are key findings about the benefits of inclusion for children and families:
- Parents' visions of a typical life for their children can come true.
All parents want their children to be accepted by their peers, have friends and lead "regular" lives. Inclusive settings can make this vision a reality for many children with disabilities.
- Children develop a positive understanding of themselves and others.
When children attend classes that reflect the similarities and differences of people in the real world, they learn to appreciate diversity.
- Friendships develop.
Schools are important places for children to develop friendships and learn social skills. Children with and without disabilities learn with and from each other in inclusive classes.
- All children learn by being together .
Because the philosophy of inclusive education is aimed at helping all children learn, everyone in the class benefits. Children learn at their own pace and style within a nurturing learning environment.
What It Means To Be Inclusive
These are the principles that guide quality inclusive education:
- All children belong.
Inclusive education is based on the simple idea that every child and family is valued equally and deserves the same opportunities and experiences. Inclusive education is about children with disabilities - whether the disability is mild or severe, hidden or obvious - participating in everyday activities, just like they would if their disability were not present. It's about building friendships, membership and having opportunities just like everyone else.
- All children learn in different ways.
Inclusion is about providing the help children need to learn and participate in meaningful ways. Sometimes, help from friends or teachers works best. Other times, specially designed materials or technology can help. The key is to give only as much help as needed.
- It is every child's right to be included.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act clearly states that all children with disabilities should be educated with non-disabled children their own age and have access to the general education curriculum.
Common Misconceptions About Inclusive Education
Some opinions about inclusive education are based on unsound information. Three common myths about inclusion are:
Separate is better
Segregation doesn't work. Whether children are separated based on race, ability, or any other characteristic, a separate education is not an equal education. Research shows that typical children and children with disabilities learn as much or more in inclusive classes.
Children must be "ready" to be included
All children have to the right to be with other children their own age. A child with disabilities does not have to perform at a certain grade level or act exactly like the other children in their class to benefit from being a full-time member in general education.
Parents don't support inclusive education
Parents have been and continue to be the driving force for inclusive education. The best outcomes occur when parents of children with disabilities and professionals work together. Effective partnerships happen when there is collaboration, communication and, most of all, TRUST between parents and professionals.
Making Inclusion a Reality
What you can do to promote inclusion for your child:
- Encourage your child to participate in activities where she can meet children her same age with different abilities . When looking for activities, consider your child's interests. The local school, library, and recreation or community centers are good places to check out. You also may want to consider national organizations that encourage diversity, such as 4-H Clubs or Girl Scouts of America.
- Search the Internet for activities or organizations that your child may want to join . Two community Web sites with numerous resources are The Family Village and Kids Together: Information for Children and Adults with Disabilities.
- Help your child develop friendships with classmates or other neighborhood children . For specific recommendations, visit the article Let's Play Together: Fostering Friendships Between Children With and Without Disabilities.
- Share your goals and expectations for your child . Before you meet with the school and decide upon your child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP), meet with his teachers, therapists and others to discuss your goals, expectations, and future placement preferences for him.
- Know the rights you and your child have to an inclusive education . For more information on your rights, visit the article Family Rights: The Educational Rights of Children With Disabilities.
The above information came from PBSParents at http://www.pbs.org/parents/inclusivecommunities/inclusive_education5.html
Inclusion for Special Education Parent Advisory Council is currently under construction. Please come back later.