Inclusion in Early Childhood Education

Inclusion in early childhood education ensures all children have access to quality schooling and life experiences.

What is inclusive early learning education?

The Division of Early Childhood and the National Association for the Education of Young Children define inclusion as:

“Early Childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child (and his or her family), regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society.”

Simply put, early childhood inclusion means all children participate and belong in the early learning classroom. 

EXCLUSION, Separation, & Integration

What inclusion is, and what it is not...

Inclusive education is about integrating all students regardless of differences.
Children who are typically developing attend the program and have access to everything they need to learn. Children with disabilities and challenging behaviors aren’t allowed to enroll in the program or participate in any way.
Inclusive education is all about creating an early learning environment where all students are valued and respected.
Children with disabilities and challenging behaviors are kept in the classroom, but do not participate in the activities with their typically developing peers. No accommodations are made to support their learning or engagement in the whole group.
Inclusive education is about togetherness, while separation is about isolating children with disabilities from their peers.
All children are able to enroll in the program but children with disabilities and challenging behavior are kept separate from the children who are typically developing and do not participate in all activities together.
Inclusive education is the practice of educating all students together, regardless of their abilities.
Children who are typically developing and children with disabilities and challenging behaviors are together for all routines and activities, given opportunities to participate in all of the same activities, while some accommodations to participate successfully are implemented on an individual basis.

Who Does Inclusion Benefit?

Inclusive early childhood education has a ripple effect – these children grow up to become inclusive adults who help create a welcoming community.
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Inclusion benefits everyone:
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Typically developing children & children with disabilities:
  • Research has shown that inclusive early learning benefits not only children with challenging behaviors and disabilities, but also children with typical development (who learn to appreciate diversity and develop compassion). Inclusion helps children with disabilities learn and grow in a supportive environment. They develop social skills, make friends, and learn from their peers.


Teachers and administrators:
  • Inclusion helps teachers and administrators become more skilled at individualizing and differentiating learning. They learn how to meet the needs of all students, regardless of their abilities.


Families:
  • Inclusion helps families access childcare and feel a sense of belonging. They can see their children thrive in a supportive environments.


The benefits of inclusion are far-reaching. By teaching inclusion at an early age, we can create a community where everyone is welcome.
Inclusive early learning benefits all children, not only those with challenging behaviors and disabilities.Weaving the threads of inclusion from a young age crafts a tapestry of belonging for all.

Ready to make your program more inclusive?

We offer high-quality consultation services with customized strategies for early education professionals supporting children with disabilities and challenging behaviors. 
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We specialize in childcare professional development and inclusive early learning training. Select from our wide range of courses on inclusive education, challenging behavior training, sensory training, autism training, and many more.

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Our professional development resources are grounded in research, evidence, and quality inclusive practices in early childhood education, child development, infant and early childhood mental health, behavioral health, attachment theory, trauma-informed practices, and early childhood therapeutic services.

Courses are provided with a goal of embracing, affirming, and promoting neurodiversity. While all course and live training materials are developed based on gathered current evidence and input from advocates, information is always evolving. Every effort is made to incorporate new thoughts, experiences and perspectives as course content is updated.