Peers with Strong Language Skills Help Preschoolers with Special Needs
Editor’s Note: Inclusion, Inclusion, Inclusion!
The guiding philosophy for educating children with disabilities has been to integrate them as much as possible into a normal classroom environment, with the hope that peers’ skills will help bring them up to speed. A new study provides empirical evidence that peers really can have an impact on a child’s language abilities, for better or worse.
While peers with strong language skills can help boost their classmates’ abilities, being surrounded by peers with weak skills may hinder kids’ language development.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We were surprised to see the striking differences among children’s language skills at the end of the school year when considering those with less-skilled peers and highly-skilled peers,” says psychological scientist Laura Justice of the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at The Ohio State University, lead author on the study. “In particular, children with disabilities seemed to be very negatively affected by having classmates who were less-skilled.”
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