Inclusive kindergarten programs make sure that all children can participate, learn and develop in an environment that supports their individual strengths and interests.
Inclusive programs provide for each child’s interests and abilities, across all learning and development outcomes identified in the
Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF).
A team approach to inclusion
To successfully deliver an inclusive kindergarten program, all staff must be involved. The whole team should actively support, promote and implement inclusion through philosophy, policies and procedures.
Common features of an inclusive team are that everyone:
- understands their individual roles and responsibilities in delivering an inclusive program
- works together to deliver an inclusive program for all children that focuses on each child’s abilities and interests
- demonstrates high expectations for all children in the program
- has open and ongoing constructive communication between staff members, and with families and kindergarten management
- shares information and expresses ideas and are willing to learn from each other’s varied expertise
- shows flexibility in the way they deliver programs
- produces an inclusive environment which is consistently welcoming to families and children, where there is a sense of organisation and coordination
- makes the most of naturally occurring opportunities to support social interaction and development of relationships between children.
Child with disability
An inclusive kindergarten makes sure the child:
- can learn alongside their peers as a member of the community
- is supported to develop secure relationships, which encourages them to learn and actively participate in the group
- can develop a strong sense of self, friendships with others in the group and a sense of belonging to the group and the broader community.
Inclusive programs support all children to:
- develop a greater sense of self as they learn to work collaboratively with others and offer care, empathy and respect
- understand and respect diversity including, differences in each other, their families and cultures.
Inclusion can help families to:
- feel welcome and a part of the kindergarten and broader community
- develop meaningful relationships with kindergarten staff and feel confident that every staff member understands their child’s interests, abilities and support needs
- trust and value each other’s contributions, with each sharing insights and decision making around their child’s learning and development
- be reassured by the fact that their child feels a sense of belonging in the program, has developed friendships, and has the opportunity to engage in the full range of learning and development activities offered to all children in the program.
A team approach to inclusion helps ensure that educators:
- have the capacity to respond to the individual needs of all children in the kindergarten program
- develop meaningful relationships with all children. This informs their ability to respond to their individual interests, abilities and needs
- work in an environment where they feel respected and valued as a contributing member of the team.
Resources to support inclusive practice
There are a wide variety of resources available to kindergartens to support planning an inclusive program including:
Early childhood teachers
Learn from and share ideas with other educators in the kindergarten or in other local services. They can offer ideas from their experiences in developing an inclusive program.
Families of children in the program
Families provide essential information about their child, their interests, abilities and support needs. Engaging with and involving parents in planning for their child is essential in developing an inclusive program.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Professionals
ECI Professionals are key sources of information and advice related to support the learning and development of children with a disability or developmental delay. Early childhood teachers should seek to collaborate with ECI professionals supporting the child and their family.
Other specialist or allied health professionals supporting a child’s development may also provide information and advice to support program planning.
Management supports the kindergarten through development and implementation of inclusive philosophies, policies and processes. This may include the early years manager and/or the kindergarten committee.
Local government functions that provide child, family and community services offer a range of support and assistance to local service providers.
Preschool Field Officers (PSFO)
PSFOs provide assistance to kindergarten program staff to support the access and meaningful participation of children with additional needs.
Autism and Inclusion at Kindergarten booklet
practical guide for early childhood teachers is linked to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and includes information about autism in young children and strategies for creating an inclusive learning environment.
Support for families
The Association for Children with a Disability's
Going to Kindergarten resource provides information to assist families of children with a disability to attend a kindergarten program in Victoria.