Inclusive education provides equal access to social and academic opportunities for all students. It’s essential to teach inclusivity to neurotypical children for many reasons. The advantages apply to all students–those with special needs and neurotypical children. Differences are a normal part of life–the sooner we teach that to our children, the better we will all be for it.
Reasons It is Important to Teach Inclusivity to Neurotypical Children
1. Provides Support
Whether a child has special needs, is neurodiverse, or neurotypical, they all need support. Fostering an inclusive environment can help children build friendships and maintain them. With a better understanding of differences, children are more likely to show empathy and have diverse and caring friendships.
Inclusivity provides students that need extra support with attention from teachers who typically focus on children with special needs. Often, children don’t qualify for special needs education, although they can benefit from support for myriad reasons. Children can benefit from teachers that are willing to step outside the box and utilize teaching methods tailored to different learning styles. Differentiated instruction can help children learn better from visual aids and children that are more hands-on learners.
Traditional special needs settings require children to go into separate classrooms to learn. In an inclusive classroom, teachers with specialized training, like reading specialists or speech therapists are present with all students. Specialized teachers come in and out of the classroom and sometimes stay throughout the entire day of class, depending on the method of instruction.
2. Benefits All Learners
All children are diverse learners who learn at their own pace. Inclusivity can lend acceptance and understanding of learning differences that enhance how children learn and grow. Differences can provide unique perspectives that offer critical thinking skills to students. In inclusive settings, teachers integrate special instruction that can benefit all learners.
The Universal Design for Learning framework uses scientific insights into how people typically learn and helps teachers present lessons in ways that help all students progress. Students benefit from inclusive classrooms in myriad ways from increasing their self-esteem to becoming more tolerant and comfortable with differences.
Typically developing children benefit from inclusivity in schools in many ways that help them become more well-rounded individuals. Understanding and respecting diversity and disability will mold students into empathetic and accepting adults. Students in inclusive classrooms experience various learning styles that can help them identify and apply their own.
3. Improves Prosocial Behaviors
Inclusivity allows all students to better understand and accept each other regardless of their differences. Neurotypical children can have difficulty understanding social behaviors. Excluding them from groups or classrooms can hinder their growth and development.
Traditional special needs classrooms were designed to better assist children with special needs, but they often excluded children from their peers, which can harm their progression. By integrating neurotypical and special needs students into classrooms with their peers, you are providing exposure for them to learn and understand socially acceptable behaviors.
Separating children with special needs from their peers often leads to social isolation, harming their self-esteem. Generalized education and special needs education can meet in the middle and benefit every child no matter what their learning disability or growth rate is.
General education students can learn immensely from differing perspectives about respect, negotiation, and empathy, which are all crucial skills they will need throughout their lives. By providing a natural environment for children to learn about socially accepted behaviors, they can generalize social skills and apply them to other aspects of their lives.
4. Improves Independent Outcomes
Inclusive education allows children to be integrated into social situations they are likely to encounter throughout their lives. Inclusivity is essential in school because it gives children from every learning perspective a chance to develop at their own pace in a natural environment. With adequate support, neurotypical children can thrive in social environments.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Rehabilitation Act align with the equality of opportunity for students and the requisite to provide the least restrictive environments for children with disabilities. Students with disabilities should have equal learning opportunities and access to the school’s standard curriculum.
Technology solutions and assistant teachers can help with inclusion in schools and other supplemental services. The only time it’s acceptable to reduce inclusion in academic settings is when a child with disabilities benefits–some students thrive with partial inclusion. Children with disabilities excel later in life from interactions with peers that help reduce social isolation from special needs classrooms without inclusivity.
Why Teach Inclusivity to Neurotypical Children
There are many benefits to having an inclusive classroom and teaching inclusivity at home. Inclusive education allows children to feel a sense of belonging, understanding, and respect for differences in their peers that can set them up for success. Inclusion provides a helpful and more effective learning environment for all students.