Nurseries are a place for learning, a place for fun, and a place for everyone, regardless of cognitive level or background. This is exactly where inclusive practice comes into play.
There will always be inherent differences between children, as each child has a different story. However, how they are treated in a nursery classroom is key as this sets the foundation for later life. The most important thing to remember is that every child has the same right to learn.
Applying this concept in your practice will help children build confidence, and allows them to grow in the world without limitations. No two children are the same, and it’s important their individuality is celebrated.
Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about inclusive practice, and why it plays such an important role in your child’s development. We’ll also be looking at what nurseries can do to be more inclusive in their own learning environment.
What is Inclusive Practice?
Inclusive practice is an approach to teaching that understands the fundamental differences between students, and ensures that every child has access to equal opportunities.
This approach puts children’s needs at the forefront by structuring teaching methods and activities around inclusivity. As a result, this encourages all children to participate in learning activities, whilst ensuring educators treat every child with the same level of care.
Here’s a quick rundown of what inclusive practice means:
- Working collaboratively
- Opportunities for all
- Embracing others
- Being open-minded
- Encouraging personalisation
Essentially, inclusive practice treats every child fairly, and caters to their individual backgrounds, interests, and requirements.
These practices apply to educators, but the benefits extend to children.
Inclusive practice encourages children to interact with those around them and teaches them not to define others by capability or cognitive level, but instead by their character.
It’s worth noting that whilst there is no legislation enforcing inclusive practice in the classroom, the Equality Act 2010 and Schools protects children from discrimination by law.
The Importance of Inclusivity in Early Years
Inclusive practice applies to all levels of education, including early years (up to age 5). These years are incredibly important to children as this is when they begin to learn more about themselves and others.
Self confidence is incredibly important at this stage, as these experiences shape who children become as they grow up. Those that consider themselves ‘different’ from others will feel more isolated, which will negatively impact their confidence and social skills.
Of course, every child will develop at their own pace, but it’s important this journey is supported by those around them, this includes nursery practitioners and parents.
By promoting equality and diversity during this stage, children are more likely to grow up as well-rounded, accepting, and kind individuals.
Why Is Inclusive Practice Important?
Outside of creating a safe space for children, an inclusive nursery has various additional benefits that extend to both nurses and parents.
Below is a summary of those benefits, some of which we’ve touched on above:
- Children learn the significance of equality and diversity
- It improves the confidence in certain children
- Students learn about how differences make us unique
- Educators create creative ways to problem solving
- Parents are given confidence that their child is accounted for
For parents, it’s important to understand what inclusive practice is and how it’s implemented within the schools and nurseries. This helps you decide if nurseries withhold a certain standard, and care about creating an inclusive space for all.
Hunny Pot is one of these nurseries, as we provide a stimulating environment where every child can thrive. When they step through our nursery door, every child is assigned a key person to ensure their daily needs are consistently met so that every child feels special.
How Can Nurseries Be More Inclusive?
There are various ways to implement inclusive practices in nurseries. The methods we’re about to cover are the same used in schools too, for the most part. They might be altered slightly to suit older children, but the goals remain the same.
The following principles help schools and nurseries create environments that champion inclusivity:
- Strong Leadership – Laying the base for the rest of the school/nursery is a strong leadership team that influences others through action.
- Climate/Structure – Educators must ensure that every step is taken to make every child feel included and valued.
Family/Community Involvement – Welcoming families and members of the wider community to embrace this practice can go a long way.
It’s a team effort all round, requiring all hands on deck.
Educators, families, and the local community all play a significant role in helping children feel at ease with themselves both in and out of the nursery setting.
In terms of teaching, it’s about structuring lesson plans and activities that champion inclusivity and engagement amongst children.
For example, if a child has ADHD, then shortening the length of certain tasks might be required as they struggle with concentration.
Assessing Teaching Methods
Nurseries are constantly assessing how they can implement inclusive practice within the classroom.
It’s important to assess your approach, as every teacher will have their own experiences before they acquired their role as a nursery teacher. For instance, educational background, personality, likes/dislikes, and upbringing, all affect the way they teach, whether they realise it or not.
Nurses must consider any areas where they aren’t taking every child’s needs into account. Again, this stage is so important in terms of development.
They must ask themselves: do they structure activities around what they think children enjoy, or do they structure them around what they actually enjoy? Also, is this activity alienating anyone?
Approaching these questions from a students point of view ensures that every lesson/activity is beneficial, fun, and most of all, inclusive.
Examining Potential Prejudice
What’s more, nurses should be examining any potential prejudices they may have. For example, one teacher might favour a particular student because they remind them of someone they previously taught.
Educators, especially those within nurseries, should be constantly questioning any potential bias they might have. Inclusive practice is all about approaching teaching from an even playing field, which isn’t possible if one student is favoured over another.
Adapting The Approach
Nurseries that believe in and implement inclusive practices succeed because they’re adaptable and agile. They tailor their teaching style to meet the needs of multiple learners, while balancing any potential prejudice and teaching methods that could be considered alienating for some.
This applies to how they think about teaching and how they apply their teaching methods. For example, if a child is a visual learner, nurse practitioners should adapt their style to suit the preferences of that particular child.
Not every student will learn the same, which makes it very important to accommodate their individual learning preferences. For example, is there a task where you can use images instead of words to communicate the same message?
Here’s another example: Let’s say a new student has joined the nursery from another country. It’s the responsibility of the teacher to adapt their teaching style to suit, which includes structuring lessons around their individual needs i.e. catering for different languages. They should also make sure to welcome the child into the wider group, to help them feel comfortable and included.
One way to do this would be to educate the class about which country the child comes from, which might include sharing pictures of popular landmarks or teaching students some basic phrases in their language. This will help integrate the child into the classroom and will make them feel more comfortable when interacting with others.
Adults understand that it’s our differences that make us unique, but children might not understand this concept at such an early age. Their first interaction with someone from a different background could be at nursery school, so it’s important that these interactions are embraced as much as possible.
As parents, it’s important to encourage children not to judge others and to welcome people from different walks of life.
The following methods help nurses bridge the gap between different students:
- Reading books
- Computer working
- Music activities
- Role play
- Outdoor play
Encouraging children to work in pairs or groups is easily one of the most effective ways to embrace diversity. Educators will also be able to see who works well in a group and can adjust lessons accordingly, if needed.
By providing constant support for children, it will help make nursery a relaxing and enjoyable place. A lot of support is action-based in the sense that nursing practitioners should be highlighting any potential issues in advance.
Minimising as many barriers as possible will make supporting the health and wellbeing of students a lot easier.
Support can come in many ways, from giving diabetic children breaks to eat, to arranging outdoor play that a child in a wheelchair can also get involved in.
Another way to provide support is to simply ask children how they’re feeling. Doing this encourages children not to contain any feelings, but instead, to share them with adults to overcome any concerns.
Support in nursery schools is essential and plays a huge role in adopting the principles of inclusive practice.
What Is Inclusive Practice and Why Is it Important for My Child?
Hopefully by this point you should have a better understanding of what inclusive practice is, and how it benefits children, educators, and you as a parent.
Every child has the right to an education, and to information that will help them better understand their classmates. Being inclusive will also help children feel more at ease with themselves, and will help them become more confident.
Early years are so important to your little ones, as this sets the base for their further education.
The way they interact with their environment during this stage will help shape who they become. That’s what makes inclusive practice so important as you are instilling a sense of belonging and acceptance from a young age.
As a matter of fact ‘inclusion’ is one of the core values at Hunny Pot nursery. We believe that every child is unique, and that individuality is something to be celebrated through our care and service. Essentially, every child matters.
If you are interested in finding out more about Hunny Pot Nursery, get in touch using the form below, and we’ll be happy to arrange a tour for you.
Inclusive Practice FAQs
What is inclusive practice?
Inclusive practice is an educational approach that looks to put every child on an even playing field at all levels of education, regardless of cognitive level or background.
Why is inclusive practice important in early years?
Young children are only just discovering the world around them, which means the information they receive now, and the environments they find themselves in, can shape who they’ll one day become.
Is Hunny Pot Nursery inclusive?
One of our core values is inclusion. We believe that every child has the same rights as others, and that individuality is something to be celebrated. Every little one in our nursery matters, we champion these differences, and adapt our teaching style to suit their needs.