The ages of 0-7 are a crucial part of any child’s development and living in an inclusive environment is essential for any young child to feel confident and safe. However, knowing how to create an inclusive environment is not always easy and in practice, it can be different from our expectations.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion means that someone can participate in everyday life as they would like to. For young children, this means that they can join in everyday family routines with the people around them – doing what any child might do. This includes being able to attend playgroup, childcare or preschool.
Some environments are less accommodating to young people with disability than others. Without making changes, these young children may be excluded from activities or left unable to take part in what their family or peers are doing. However, there are some ways to create a more inclusive environment for young children.
Think about what would need to change for the child to be able to participate in an activity they are currently excluded from and see if there are any practical ways of making that possible.
For example, a family might avoid taking their child to the library because they tend to make a lot of noise. Instead of trying to change the amount of noise the child makes, the family could work with the library to make adjustments so that the child’s behaviour is not frowned upon.
Involve the whole community in inclusion
For young children with disability, creating an inclusive environment often involves the whole family and the whole community. Environments like playgroup, childcare and preschool can all play a part in making it easier for children with disability to participate in the same way that any other child would. For young children, being safe, doing what other children their age do and having a good time are all key to inclusivity.
Find support when you need it
If you have a young person in your life who needs support, there is help available. Lifestartcan assist in facilitating inclusion for young children with:
- A range of services to provide specialised support for every child
- The Start Strong Pathways program