What is Inclusion: Why Should we be Talking about it in the IEP


What is Inclusion: Why Should we be Talking about it in the IEP

Why Inclusion Matters in the Classroom

Inclusion is essential in the classroom because it allows students with disabilities the same access to education as their peers. This learning environment creates a more inclusive and welcoming community. In an inclusive classroom, all students can learn and grow together, regardless of individual differences. Inclusion also helps to reduce stigma and stereotypes about disabilities. When non-disabled students are exposed to students with disabilities, they are less likely to exhibit negative attitudes toward them. Furthermore, when students with disabilities are included in the classroom, they are more likely to experience an increased sense of belonging, self-esteem, and connection to the school community.

Additionally, by removing students with disabilities for instruction that does not need to be specialized or for support that could be offered in the classroom, we could be impacting their self-esteem and confidence; it could introduce them to behaviors they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to.

What You Can Do to Advocate for Inclusion for Your Child

If you want to advocate for inclusion for your child, there are a few things you can do. First, reach out to your child's school and inquire about the inclusionary practices they have in place. Ask about available supports that will ensure your child is fully included in the classroom. If you feel like your child can be successful in a general education classroom as long as the school provides support in the classroom, be specific. Ask how much support your child needs and how they will provide it. If the school refuses an inclusion setting, ask what data they have that supports their decision. Suppose you believe your child can be successful in a general education classroom. In that case, raising the bar is rarely a bad thing. Ask if you can do a trial period and see how your child does. You can reconvene after six weeks or after the first quarter and see if a change of placement is necessary.

What You Can Do Once Your Child is in an Inclusive Classroom

Once your child is placed in a general education classroom, you should get to know your child's teacher(s) and share any concerns or goals you have for your child. Ensure each teacher has a copy of your child's accommodations to access how they can support your child quickly. This "cheat sheet" will help ensure your child's needs are met throughout the school year and that your child feels supported in the classroom. Make sure to stay in contact with the teachers. An email every quarter (or more) to let them know you are still there to help can go a long way.

Conclusion

Inclusion in the classroom can be beneficial for all students. It can create an inclusive, understanding, and supportive classroom community. Through inclusion, students with disabilities can access the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. They can develop relationships and foster understanding with them. The key to helping your child succeed in an inclusive classroom is to ensure the right supports and resources are included in the IEP. For example, if your child struggles with social skills, ensure your IEP has social skills goals they can practice in the classroom. This attention to detail and support will help all students feel welcomed and accepted.

Remember the Least Restrictive Envrionment is not ALWAYS the General Education classroom. But it often is, and if we want our kids to grow to be successful working along side neurotypical peers, they need to have access and experience doing so.