One of the best ways to understand & support the inclusion of every child, is by stepping into their shoes and getting a perspective of how they feel and what they may be experiencing.
This helps us plan and work towards ensuring that we get inclusion right for every individual child and that no child experiences exclusion.
Through our work at Diversity Kids, we often hear from children themselves, grateful for their Bilingual Educator who helps them understand and be better understood. Or the children we observe through our intervention and inclusion support that are feeling happier and comforted knowing that their Educators are becoming better equipped to support their unique inclusion needs and that their peers are becoming more inclusive, accepting and understanding.
It all begins with the welcome. When the child walks through the door every morning, what are they telling you about how safe, included and welcome they feel? Do you see signs of confidence, connection & belonging? Does the child feel safe and happy enough to farewell family without issue and participate meaningfully during a positive and fulfilling day? One can usually pick up signals from the onset around barriers that need to be addressed in order for the child to experience a happier & more inclusive time in their education & care setting.
For every child to participate fully, it is important that their voices are heard & that they are understood by their fellow peers & Educators. For some children, this means, additional support to give them louder voices and also help them better understand what is expected of them throughout the day. We always need to be looking for ways to ensure that every voice is heard and that every child is given an opportunity to authentically and meaningfully engage and participate without any barriers. Keep an eye out throughout the program as to who is not contributing or constantly appear to be distracted or disruptive and ask yourself whether your intervention to address & remove any current barriers may help.
It is important that as Educators, we regularly reflect and check in to see that no child is struggling to participate in our programs. If they do, they do not have the capacity to ask for help – it is our responsibility as Educators to find solutions to help them overcome any obstacles (whether this means language support, accommodations & modifications to our programs or building our confidence, knowledge & capacity around inclusion and inclusive practices).
Every child feels better included and a greater sense of connection & belonging when they see themselves and can relate to the resources & programs we provide every day. Diversity Kids advocates for “mirror & window” programs & resources, to heighten a sense of inclusion and diversity for all children. When children look at books, toys, dolls embedded in your programs they should be able to see reflections of themselves – like looking at a mirror. These resources should also give children an opportunity to open doors and explore the diversity around them.
Inclusion for the child operates holistically with various factors and interactions coming into play – from our inclusive actions as Educators to finding ways to ensure that all families are given the opportunity to participate, contribute and belong. Nothing makes a child feel more included than a child who participates fully and can see that their family experiences the same.
A child might not be able to tell you whether they feel included or not or what they need to be included. As adults, we can reflect, put ourselves in their shoes and try to experience belonging through their eyes. We know that every child is being included, when every child thrives, participates meaningfully & fully and that their education & care setting feels safe and just like home.