Monday, 13 April 2015

You learn to talk by talking, you learn to read by reading, you learn to write by writing...and you learn to include by including!

Working in a school where inclusion is the norm, creates problems when faced with a segregated society where most adults today can't fathom how this works as it is so far removed from their schooling and current work practice. The idea of inclusion is that people with 'special needs' are viewed in ways in which they are the same as other people, rather than in ways they are different. At our school we see everybody having special needs, some just have special needs some of the time and some have them all the time!

According to the Centre for Inclusive Education in Canada, the characteristics of an inclusive school are these:

A supportive environment
Grade 1s at the Science Centre
Our school has many people supporting every child every day. The class teachers are the first 'go to' people, but children also have teacher aides, a counsellor, a learning support teacher, an inclusive support teacher, the admin staff, the deputy......the list of staff is endless! Of course inclusive schools aren't only about staff support either - the children's support and the parental support network is also essential for the care, feeling of acceptance and value that children feel here. I have been told frequently about the 'atmosphere' that is tangible when someone walks into our foyer! 

Positive relationships
Children at Pinelands North are encouraged to build good relationships with aftercare staff, an older grade 7 pupil, and other children of all ages who 'work' within the school with them like the bird and bunny monitors. We find that having all our children playing together on the playground is exceptionally positive - different aged children play together and care for each other amazingly well. Some children struggle socially and so for them, the section of individual games and puzzles outside my office is a lifesaver at break time or before school.

Feelings of Competence
Grade 4 Market Day
All children need to be 'competent' at something and so we try to provide as varied an offering for our children as possible. Extramurals cater for those who wish to play in teams, and for those who don't, for those who can run and move, and for those for whom movement is difficult! Competency in the classroom is also varied as teachers try to catch children doing the right thing either in writing, reading, mathematics, performing, speaking and many other skills - academic and not.

Opportunties to Participate 
Children at school need opportunities to test their participation is as many varied fields as possible, particularly in primary school. In doing so they learn how to function in society, in their homes and in school. Pinelands North offers so many of these opportunities:
Best Speaker's Competition
Poetry Competition
Early Act Tree of Joy Christmas Gifts
Fun run/walk
Biennual school play
Market Days
Camps and tours
Each of these allows somebody to create a niche for themselves, and in so doing, be accepted widely in their school and society. 

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