It takes a village to raise a child. With the popularity of mainstreaming in today’s society, this phrase has taken on a new meaning. Children with disabilities must be successfully included in a classroom with their non disabled peers. These children can succeed, and learn life long compensatory strategies. The teachers, parents, and community will be the deciding factor in terms of positive or deleterious outcomes.
Students with disabilities can feel socially isolated. Strategies that can minimize this problem abound. After school programs can assimilate children into every day social situations. Teachers should take time to teach non disabled students to respect children who are different than what they perceive. Holding class meetings where kids express themselves is an opportune time to foster understanding. I did this each Friday with structured chats. Teaching social skills to the entire class during this time-frame is extremely effective.
Parents play an instrumental role in the process of building self efficacy, incorporating parent trainings, web sites for communication between the parent and school, open door policy in the classroom, phone calls, and daily updates between the school and parent. Ensure that parents of every economic level are included in the learning process. Classroom Climate is the deciding factor of success or failure. Mainstreaming can minimize friction, and social isolation. For disabled children to live cohesively among their peers, teachers must be prepared to see each child as an individual, be free of bias, thus not instilling the self fulfillment prophecy, and last but not least, envision each child as having talents that can make a positive contribution to the class.
As educators, emphasis should be on envisioning each and every child as a future contributor to our world. Their positive outcome necessitates our working together as a cohesive unit with a united goal. That goal is a human being whose future well being rests in the palm of our hand. Their assimilation to society can be positive. Teachers, parents, and the community, will be the deciding factor.
Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE
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