Name and Number of the Course Date INCLUDING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS Introduction It is increasingly acknowledged that children’s developmental needs should be met during early childhood years, to optimize their physical, social, cognitive and emotional development and well-being for the rest of their lives…
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Further, the differences between children with disabilities or developmental delays and other children are difficult for teachers to deal with (Openshaw 45). However, an inclusive early childhood classroom benefits both normal children and those with disabilities. The former learn acceptance, tolerance and helpfulness, while the latter benefit from the dynamic environment, particularly when they receive supplementary help to overcome any setback caused by their disability. Social workers, special education teachers, speech therapists, and others can provide immense support. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood education programs. Early Childhood Education Optimizing children’s potential through early education depends to a great extent on the environment in which they learn, whether at home, in day care, or in a nursery school classroom. In an inadequate environment, children’s potential will not get developed, resulting in quickly widening gaps in achievement which become increasingly difficult to overcome. Example of a model program in America for preschools targetted at low-income children is Head Start. It has offered a helping hand to the nation’s neediest families and children through provision of pre-academic skills, social skills, preventive medical and dental care; and teaching families about nutrition. Head Start also provides child care services otherwise unavailable to low-income parents, and gives nutritious meals and snacks to the preschoolers. It is one of the several early education schemes that ensure that children from lower economic groups get support and preparation for formal schooling (Kennedy 3). The aim is towards equity among all children for reaching their potential and fulfilling their dreams. Short-term beneficial outcomes of the Head Start program are that “children benefit from improved health and nutrition, and from being in a safe and nurturing environment” (Currie 233). Some medium-term benefits of the early education program include the prevention of children being placed in the special education track, and reduced incidence of grade repetition in early grades. Potential cost savings are extensive, because special education is significantly more expensive than regular schooling, and those children who enter special education are more likely to stay in that track. Monitoring of the children’s progress is necessary at every step. Inclusion in Early Childhood Education The concepts of inclusion and exclusion of children with disabilities in relation to the general early education classroom, renders disabled children as ‘different’ from their non-disabled counterparts. Inclusionary discourses are based on the ‘humanness’ of disabled children, where they are not perceived as ‘the other’ as compared to children in the general education classroom. The concept of humanity emphasizes disabled children being ‘like us’. On the other hand, exclusionary approaches to early education believe that regular teachers and early childhood centers are not responsible for the education and care of disabled children (Purdue, Ballard & MacArthur 47). Early childhood education that incorporates inclusion of disabled children, or excludes them is a concept that is a part of a wider social context where there may be
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