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Elements of Inclusive Education for Early Childhood Programs August 19, High quality early childhood programs form the foundation for high quality inclusive programs from which all children benefit. Professional Reading: Early Childhood Resources February 19, National Association for the Education of Young Children: Applied Research One of the primary goals of the Center for Applied Research is to encourage and support all those in the early childhood field to become critical consumers of research about early childhood development and education.
Get the latest courses, resources and news. Find Out More! Menu Home. Inclusive Schools Week. Inclusion in Action. August 20, Houston, Texas Phone: Fax: Third, and equally important, childcare is beneficial for children. Childcare, be it early childhood education and care, or out-of-school care, offers opportunities for play, learning, and social interaction. Much of parenting is circular and cyclical - repeating habits learned from one's own parents.
Creating True Inclusion In Education
Children enter this cycle, which is fine if the habits are healthy and useful ones, but not if they are life-compromising. Being part of a universal childcare system enables all parents and children to encounter different ways of being - and to develop different habits - as well as finding reassurance that their experiences are not unique, nor their problems unsolvable. Young children account for nearly one half of all children and young people in poverty. Many children have endured poverty all their young lives. The Growing Up in Scotland GUS report found that one quarter of three and four-year-olds and one fifth of five and six-year-olds were living in 'persistently poor' families over the four-year study period.
Having a baby and providing care during the early years has a big impact on the income of families, and on women in particular. Maternity and parental leave provisions still do not adequately compensate for the loss of income during the child's first year.
Paternity leave, and support for fatherhood more generally, remains even worse, despite the reality that increasing numbers of fathers are keen to become active, positive parents. In the months after birth, the income of many families is affected by the difficulty in accessing and affording childcare services.
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Childcare for all ages is the biggest single cost incurred by families. Making high quality childcare universally available a publicly-subsidised entitlement like schools or the NHS is the key policy change required across Scotland. All parents should pay a contribution, according to their income but putting a cap on the cost to parents would have a dramatic impact on family income, which in turn can help lift children out of poverty and decrease parental stress. Research shows that the impact of children's early months and years upon their lifelong health and wellbeing is huge.
Sustained investment in young children could have a transformative effect on the nation's health and wellbeing. It is a perfect example of the kind of preventative spending that governments have declared a priority. And yet, childcare, particularly for children under three, is treated as an entirely private matter. There is little state support for it, unless children are officially deemed at risk of harm and childcare is viewed as necessary as a matter of child protection.
Prevention and early intervention are seriously hampered when children or parents are neither known nor supported effectively outside their immediate family until children are enrolled in nursery in the term after their third birthday. GUS research notes that the families who would benefit most from a range of services from antenatal care to early childhood education and care are the ones least likely to access these Mabelis and Marryat The fact is that childcare and the early family support that can accompany it are available only to those perceived to have failed in their parenting and that failure must rise above ever-higher thresholds , or because parents are in jobs that pay well enough to include childcare costs as long as they work during office hours.
While there are many well-intentioned support programmes, including childcare, targeted at particular groups of parents, it is well known internationally that such programmes may only reach between one third and a half of their intended target OECD ; OECD UNICEF's Report Card 8 shows that universal early childhood services have many of the same advantages as universally available education for older children. They bring together children from different backgrounds; command broad and sustainable public support; and, engender greater public concern for quality.
There is a specific profile
UNICEF indicates that the way forward for early childhood programmes lies in universal services with flexible financing systems that can give priority to the disadvantaged by increasing per capita expenditure where need is greatest UNICEF The European Commission's Communication on Early Childhood Education and Care is emphatic about the benefits of universal access: There is clear evidence that universal access to quality ECEC is more beneficial than interventions targeted exclusively at vulnerable groups.
Governments, mainly, but not only, in Nordic countries, that take a preventative approach to public services - providing robust, universal welfare arrangements - are able to address the multiple factors that influence social exclusion. Early childhood education and care, and out of school care for primary and early secondary age children, are part of this universal welfare arrangement and, while considered essential to enabling parents to work, such support is also a universal entitlement for children and parents, regardless of parents' employment status.
Childcare and other forms of family support do not support only individuals.
Inclusive education means all children are included in every way, not just in theory
They can be an asset to the economy, communities and society, which is why universal entitlement should become the norm in Scotland. The best carers for young children in different settings realise that understanding the family as a whole is the starting point for providing good care for children.
For example, early years practitioners at Quarriers Family Resource Centre in Ruchazie in the east end of Glasgow are called family workers, reflecting the belief that supporting children's learning and wellbeing needs to be in the context of the child's family and community.
Staff understand that how they engage with children and their parents is the key to developing sensitive, thoughtful and reflective relationships. Knowledge and understanding of both children and their parents or carers help staff create an environment for learning and wellbeing, and provide support for parents to develop the close, loving, secure family relationships children need Children in Scotland This approach is core in similarly excellent early years services elsewhere in Europe.
Services are universal - they are not targeted at parents in work, or parents in difficulty but are open to everyone. Early years settings support a range of groups with parents. Early years staff meet together with families to consider issues of parenting, or child development, or to make toys together, or to simply have an end-of-year party. There are opportunities for individual meetings with parents if they wish Bloomer and Cohen Other childcare models can offer similar, family-focused support.
A childminder in Lanarkshire currently advises young Polish parents about their children's entitlement to pre-school provision, of which they had no idea. In the Highlands, a childminder is working with parents of a child diagnosed with autism; navigating the health system with them; and helping them develop different ways of communicating with their child.
An after-school club in Glasgow runs peer-to-peer parenting courses led by parents in the community, parents who are familiar with the local challenges of family life. Childcare models vary, but the best support for parents is usually found in settings that recognise that children are part of families and that their wellbeing is determined as much by that family as any part of the community. Supporting parents to parent to the best of their ability should be about removing existing obstacles as much as about providing additional information and advice.
Parents respond most positively to professionals who treat them with empathy and respect and acknowledge their expertise with their own child. High quality childcare that does just that, can build parental confidence and competence, as well as benefiting the wellbeing of children being cared for daily. Children need parents who are not exhausted and stressed by dashing from different childcare services and schools, putting together a patchwork of provision for their individual children. All parents need to be able to access childcare and other parental support services that are well designed and well run.
Providing services that parents are part of; where they feel valued and respected; and where they are encouraged to contribute their views and learn from those working with their children, enables them to be the best parents they can be. Scotland needs a universal system of high quality, affordable, accessible childcare, to enable parents and practitioners to fulfil their potential, and make it far more likely that children will get the best start in life.
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