Jeff speaks with Wendy Partin, the Executive Director of the White Plains Children’s Center in Cary about the benefits of inclusion and its place in education.
What is inclusion and what place does it have in education?
Inclusion is providing a climate where all people are included – regardless of their abilities, financial status, and cultural background. It’s including everyone because we can learn so much from each other. This is especially true in a learning environment where children can learn skills from each other. It’s important to take it one step further in an educational setting. In order to prepare the children for a lifetime of inclusion, it is important for schools to have a workplace of inclusion, which the Center models. “We have a highly diverse staff,” Wendy said. “Whether it’s from their ethnic and cultural upbringing, education level, or socio-economic background. The children see inclusion not just among other students in their classroom, but in our workplace.”
How can it be incorporated into the classroom?
Having a good ratio of students in the classroom and participation in all activities is key. White Plains Children’s Center has a 50/50 ratio in their classes for three to five-year-olds. The students with special needs — as well as the typically developing students — have an individual education plan. “All of our children our individuals,” said Wendy. “That is how we look at our group. Everyone is included, all day long, in all the activities – from mealtime, circle time, outside activities.” The children draw on each other’s strengths, as opposed to focusing on what they can’t do. Instead of disabled, children need to be viewed as “differently-abled,” regardless if they have a diagnosis.
What is the value to the children from being in of an inclusive learning environment?
The obvious value is that the children with a diagnosed disability have other children model for them, including ways to solve problems and how to accomplish goals. Wendy stressed that the benefit to the typically developing child is so much greater. “They learn compassion and develop leadership skills, as well as to be blind to people’s disabilities, focusing more on what others can do. It leads to empathetic adults.”
To continue to provide programs and services to students with special needs, White Plains Children’s Center is having a fundraiser from September 1st through the 30th. To support their mission, please go to the following link: www.gofundme.com/mk297www.
For more information about the Center, please refer to their website: www.whiteplainschildrenscenter.org or call: (919) 469-2217.