Education is about children
Dr. Mel Levine says ‘Each child is unique and learns in a different way, but most schools still cling to the one-size-fits-all education philosophy.”
Technology has radically changed the way we eat, travel, communicate, or access health care. But our education system remains almost the same. Fitting a child with special needs into a pre-existing and rigid set up is not what we mean by inclusion.
Once schools begin to realize that different children have different needs, it will be clear that many of those children who are already enrolled also need special attention. Disability isn’t always visible nor is it always what we think it is. A child may not be fluent in the language of instruction. She may have difficulty with attention or with sitting still. A child may have an undiagnosed hearing or vision problem or trouble comprehending instructions.
Many students with undetected learning problems also get marginalized – slowly but surely.
Awareness happens when we work not just with the child but also the parents, teachers, principals and the whole school community.
- A child should be in an age- appropriate class. Learning is not just through books and copies but through social interactions with same–age friends and playmates, building the skills necessary to be a happy, productive member of society. Academic programs should keep the child in mind while supporting the teachers and parents to set realistic goals. We look at the barriers a child may be facing in school and help the school to find ways to overcome them. We want children to learn the skills that are needed in the world – how to communicate, work as a team, empathize with others, etc.
- Supporting parents to overcome their doubts and fears about putting their precious one in a set up which may not be welcoming is vital. Parents need to be informed about the accommodations their kids are entitled to, about strategies to take them forward in academics, and how to advocate for their rights.
- A school community means management, administrators, teachers, students, support staff and parent groups (if they exist). For inclusion to succeed in a school, the whole group must understand and support it. That means workshops and individual sessions at every level in a school.
Supporting and preparing a school for welcoming a special child is what we try to do in the form of visits, discussions, workshops. We support teachers and make them comfortable with the new addition/responsibility in their class and to help them look beyond the lesson completion to the basic aims of education.
Many teachers are willing to gain more knowledge and include the child in their daily planning. We are committed to helping and supporting the teachers and the school. When the school policy is to include children and plan for them, the rest is just detail.