Jennifer Tavares, Counselor and Special Educator, www.pledgeacademy.in
When the school your child studies in calls you and politely tells you that your child is a “slow learner” or learns differently from “other children” your heart and mind just stops thinking and you begin to feel that this is the end for your child…you also begin to wonder if he/she needs to go to a special school or a school that accepts him/her for what he/she is. My work with children with special needs over the last few years leads me to automatically believe they should not be segregated from society. It’s not their fault that they have disabilities. Here are some of the reasons why I believe that inclusion is important…
I believe that every child deserves to be in a mainstream school. Some children may have learning disabilities or physical disabilities however they also have a right to an education. It is important for children with special needs to be integrated into mainstream schooling so that they may receive the same opportunities that other children are getting. Why should children with special needs be treated any differently? Some children may need extra help however they should be included with other so called, “normal” children. How else will they learn about regular things if they are not among the majority?
Most students tend to learn better in inclusive settings. In the past, ability grouping, and special education remedial programs were thought to be the way to provide for individual needs of most students. When youngsters who have learning problems are included into mainstream education, students without disabilities often do better academically. A teacher is more inclined to break instruction into finer parts or repeat directions if he or she has a child in the classroom with a learning disability. Remedial classes within and outside school hours help to tackle specific deficits that the child has. This way it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Inclusion fosters the growth of self-esteem and self-confidence. No student wants to be singled out or identified as “different”. All children fear ridicule from their peers, teachers and society at large. Schools with an inclusive policy must create events for all children to shine and display their talents in areas other than academics thus enabling children with LD to gain confidence in the big arena. Parents play an important role in advocating that their children are given a fair chance in all activities of the school.
Inclusion helps all students learn the meaning of equality and equal rights. Children learn early that education is imparted without discrimination thereby learning that we live in a tolerant society. It helps them learn that all people have abilities and disabilities and that they need to live and work together to survive and be happy.
When schools decide to include children with special needs in their schools they are sending out a strong message that the teachers work hard to include everyone without discriminating…and thus making every child count.