Early Education Corner: Disabilities No Barrier At All-Inclusive Preschools
[Source: Disability Scoop]
Teaching assistant Jillian Link looked over just in time to see the little girl, with her dark hair braids bouncing against her tan glasses, crawling away from the other children.
“Hey, you can’t crawl away,” Link playfully scolded. “If you’re going to go somewhere, you have to walk away.”
Link scooped up the child, decked out in her pink Hello Kitty jumpsuit, and placed her gently within the confines of her miniature sparkle-gold walker. The girl knew what to do instantly, marching her way around the classroom while she leaned on the sides of the walker.
“Not too long ago, she wasn’t even crawling,” Lorraine Ford, preschool manager of Play Do Learn Preschool, said of the girl. “And her motivation to move was that she wanted to join in to whatever the other kids were doing over there … She had to get over there on her own.”
Some of the children at Play Do Learn, like the girl in the walker, have disabilities or learning delays. But others do not.
The school, part of nonprofit agency SRVS that operates out of Independent Presbyterian Church, integrates children with and without varying levels of disabilities at the preschool level starting at age 15 months. The practice, known as all-inclusive preschool, is a concept the U.S. Department of Education said in a policy statement last month should be more prevalent in both public and private education settings.
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