Every Child Belongs: Welcoming a Child with a Disability (NAEYC) Aug./Sept. 2017
Adapted from The Essentials: Supporting Young Children with Disabilities in the Classroom, by Pamela Brillante. Copyright © 2017 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
When you open your classroom door this new school year, you’ll be welcoming preschoolers with a variety of experiences, strengths, and challenges. For some children, this will be their first time in a classroom, and they may struggle to follow routines and grasp concepts. Others will arrive having a lot of experience with books and language, and some may be dual language learners. A few children in your new class might have disabilities or developmental delays that impact their learning, social skills, or behavior.
You may be wondering, How do I support children with disabilities or developmental delays when I don’t have any training to do that? All children learn best in a developmentally appropriate program that offers them the supports they need to participate successfully alongside their classmates. Many children with disabilities benefit from simple accommodations and modifications, while other children may need more specialized, individualized supports provided by special education professionals. These professionals will work with you, the children, and their families to help the children learn and thrive.
To be an effective teacher, remember that regardless of individual needs, children are first and foremost children—and best practices for young children are best practices for all young children. Here are some ideas to help you set the stage for a great year for everyone.