Think about what special education is like in your school for a moment. Do you have a classroom or program specifically for children with disabilities? Are they excluded from the rest of the children their age to learn in the special education classroom? Or, are children with disabilities in your classroom integrated with their non-disabled peers? Is there also a teacher aid present?
For awhile, children with disabilities were taught in separate classes or schools. This practice has been implemented for so long that people have gotten used to the idea that children with disabilities should be separated from their non-disabled peers. It was thought that this practice benefits everyone because children with disabilities get the attention they need at a pace they can handle — which usually slower than the rest of the peers their age. And non-disabled children can continue to learn at the pace they’re used to without lowering overall classroom expectations.
However, we now know that when disabled and non-disabled children are educated together, positive academic and social outcomes occur for all the children involved. Just check out this story about why inclusion and mainstream education is important here. Inclusive education is something that all schools should start to consider to educate their students.
What Is Inclusive Education?
Inclusive education is a child’s right. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all children with disabilities should be educated with nondisabled children their own age and have access to the general education curriculum. And students with special needs have the right to receive necessary curricular adaptations, such as accommodations and modifications. This secures opportunities for students with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in general education classrooms.
There are quite a few benefits to inclusive education. Here are just a few that I strongly believe will help all children regardless of their abilities.
- Children with disabilities have a better chance of having a normal life. If children with disabilities are in settings with children who don’t have disabilities, this will lead to more acceptance among children. In addition, some children with disabilities may become friends with children who don’t have a disability, thus leading to a more “normal life” for those who are disabled.
- Understanding diversity. Children learn best at a young age. If children are exposed to differences in other people at an early age, they will appreciate diversity among each other and recognize that each person deserves the same amount of respect, no matter their abilities or background.
- They’re challenged. Sometimes children with disabilities are separated from the rest of the children their age by being placed in a different classroom. They are often encouraged to learn at their own pace, which is much slower than the level of other children their age. If children with disabilities are placed in the same classroom as the rest of their peers, they will be challenged to read, write and solve problems at a level on target with the rest of their peers.
What are your thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them!