Inclusion in Early Childhood Education
At Lil People’s World, Early Childhood Education (ECE) is far from the common misconceptions of structured play or organized chaos. In reality, we strive to offer the best in ECE, which means inclusion, both in and outside of the classroom. Thanks to our phenomenal teachers, we are so proud to provide the attentive care needed to give every unique, young mind exactly what it needs to flourish. Upholding an inclusive learning environment and a tailored teaching approach are always our top priorities.
So what does inclusion in ECE look like, and what does it mean to us?
Children are born to explore the world from their first breath, taking in everything they see, touch, hear, do, and smell. This creates a stigma that all children learn and grow at the same rate, which we all know is inaccurate. At Lil' People's World, we understand that learning is a personalized experience and that inclusion in early childhood starts with the individual child and what we can understand about them.
Our lead toddler teacher, Miss Christina, says “[Inclusion means recognizing] every type of everybody, every race, and ability, by providing books, materials, and information on all cultures and abilities.” We couldn’t agree more!
We believe there is an important distinction between equality and equity. Our Kirkland Director, Miss Jami, says, “Equality is when everyone gets the same thing, and equity is when everyone gets the things they deserve.” Miss Chloe, Kirkland’s lead preschool teacher, adds, “All children are equally important, but each child also needs the same opportunities.”
Our incredible teachers are well-equipped to observe and assess each child in their care to understand their specific learning style and pace and establish appropriate inclusion and environmental adaptations. Therefore Lil' People's World's environment and activities are intentionally tailored to accommodate all children and provide a well-rounded learning experience that meets every child exactly where they need it.
Miss Carmen in Kirkland says, “For our 1–2-year-olds, we give comfort and acknowledgment to all the children, not just those showing they need extra attention. It can be as simple as, 'I see you, Kingsley!' — a little bit goes a long way, and the children love to lead by example.” Float teacher, Miss Jade, adds, “Because I get to see all the classrooms, I can ensure that everyone gets to be in the spotlight if that is what they want. One of my favorite moments is allowing all the children time to talk during our mealtimes.”
To achieve equity, inclusivity extends beyond teaching methods and into the environment as a whole. To create an inclusive environment, it’s essential not only to allow each child access to their individuality but to celebrate it — instilling in them that their thoughts, experiences, and creativity are their superpowers.
This is why our learning and multi-purpose materials at Lil' People's World are specifically designed for inclusion to represent the diversity of our classrooms, inspire all interest areas, and encourage the children to use their vast imaginations. These practices allow access to new perspectives and create more open-ended play opportunities.
Miss Diana, who teaches at our Seattle location says, “Inclusion consists of ensuring that every child gets to be a part of all the activities at their own pace.”
During circle time, we incorporate children’s names into our songs, even if they cannot sit with the rest of the class, to establish community and individual belonging. This teaches the children that every one of them is an integral part of the classroom. We understand that children can feel when they are included in a group and design all of our daily activities to promote equity and teach every child they are valued and represented, regardless of their abilities or development.
Practicing inclusion applies to all families, guardians, and teachers, each playing a beneficial role in creating an environment that’s centered around community. Bellevue teacher, Miss Nallely says, “Inclusion for our center is respecting cultures, families, languages, and abilities. We remind each other that we are family and are all working towards the same goal.” Miss Karen, one of our preschool teachers, adds, “Inclusion means accepting everyone as they are and respecting differences.”
We all can think back on how amazing times when we were proud of ourselves and genuinely included have felt. Those feelings are what we strive to give to every child in our care every day. Teaching our children with inclusion means teaching them that they belong and should always be proud of being their unique and beautiful selves — we wouldn’t have it any other way!