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IEL Tip Sheet: Inclusion in Preschool Classrooms About

Many preschool programs include young children with special needs in their classrooms. The goal of inclusion is to help all children learn to the best of their abilities. Here are some questions that parents often ask about inclusion.

What does inclusion mean?

Inclusion means teaching all children together, regardless of ability level. Inclusive programs celebrate children’s similarities as well as their different abilities and cultures. In inclusive classrooms, children with special needs take part in the general education curriculum based on their ages and grades. They are not put into a separate classroom, but rather the curriculum and the room are adapted to meet children’s needs.

What does an inclusion team do?

The inclusion team plans ways to provide access, participation, and supports so all children can learn as independently as possible. People on an inclusion team are expected to have good communication skills. They are flexible and creative about meeting all children’s needs. An inclusion team consists of people from inside and outside the school who work together to support children with special needs:

  • General education teachers teach the curriculum to all students.
  • Special education teachers help general education teachers plan how to embed individual children’s goals and objectives into classroom routines and activities.
  • Classroom assistants work with the teachers and therapists to support children’s full participation in classroom activities.
  • Related service providers may be speech therapists, occupational therapists, or physical therapists. They help the classroom staff decide how to work with children who have special needs. They also help children develop skills and abilities needed to function well in the classroom, home, and community.
  • Parents provide important information about their children’s progress and needs. They also support their child’s learning activities at home and in the community.
  • Administrative staff members lead school programs. They also make sure that classroom staff members have the resources they need to work successfully with all children.

How does inclusion work?

A child’s inclusion team meets regularly to plan how to make the curriculum, physical space, and special services fit together smoothly. The teacher makes changes based on input from the team. An inclusive preschool classroom might have

  • wider aisles so children with physical challenges can move around easily,
  • picture schedules so children with language delays can follow the daily routine,
  • adaptive crayons and scissors that are made for children with fine-motor delays,
  • technology to ensure each child’s full participation in program routines and activities, and/or
  • specialized equipment for children with hearing and/or vision challenges.
December 2015

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The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.