Supporting All Learners

This month, the CCEI newsletter explores the recommended practices included in what is known as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  The strategies contained within the UDL Guidelines are designed to level the playing field in classrooms around the globe.  The strategies are organized into 3 categories; Engagement, Representation, and Action & Engagement. You can learn more here.

There are a number of other organizations that provide guidance on how to support learners of various levels. The Joint Position Statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) helps educators understand what early childhood inclusion means.

Here is the definition provided in the position statement:

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. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports.

The 3 key elements of the definition are as follows:

  • Access- this includes the steps taken to ensure that both the physical environment and the activities introduces are made openly and equally available to all children.
  • Participation– this refers to the way in which every child feels a sense of belonging and has the opportunity to participate meaningfully in all activities.
  • Supports- this means that steps are taken to ensure the child’s needs are being met, therapists provide services in the learning environment, parents and educators collaborate, and that training is available to everyone involved with the child.

You can access the full document here.

The second third resource that is helpful when considering the individuals needs of early learners comes from the Divisions for Early Childhood.  The resource is called the DEC Recommended Practices.  In the document, educators will find strategies organized into the following categories:

  • Leadership
  • Assessment
  • Environment
  • Family
  • Instruction
  • Interaction
  • Teaming and Collaboration
  • Transition

These easy-to-read, research-based recommendations are a great start for any educator hoping to create a more inclusive environment. The great thing about the strategies is, they work for all children and can be put in place at any time. The practices will promote development for all young learners and prepare the educator with the skills necessary to support children diagnosed with special needs when they enroll.

You can read the DEC Recommended practices here.