Step 1: Dilemma

In Step 1 you will hear and read about two perspectives on a practice dilemma. The dilemma is about a child’s participation in an inclusive setting viewed through the eyes of both the teacher and the family.

DEC Recommended Practices: E1, E3, INS2, INS4, INS5

Meet Jackie. She is a teacher in an NAEYC accredited program that serves children birth through five years of age. Jackie’s program is a full-day, community child care center.  A three-year-old boy named Luke has recently joined her classroom.

After watching, complete Activity 1.1a by describing the dilemma.

Video 1.1: The teacher’s viewpoint

Jackie, a teacher in a community-based childcare program shares a dilemma about including Luke, a 3 year old boy with developmental delays, in her classroom (running time: 1 min. 50 sec.).

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My program has just become more inclusive, and they’ve placed a child with significant disabilities into my class. I’m just not sure I’m ready for this.

I had one course in college that focused on working with children with disabilities, but that consisted of an overview of children with different types of disabilities. It didn’t really tell me what I should be doing in my classroom.

I had a practicum in an inclusive program, but inclusion in this program just meant that children with disabilities only got to play with other children on the playground and sit with them during lunch.

My co-teacher and I have a classroom of eight children, mostly two-year-olds turning three. Now Luke has joined our group, and he’s an engaging three-year-old with curly hair and a sweet smile. But he also has pretty significant language delays and limited experience being around other children.

Although Luke uses a special communication device and knows some sign language, he still needs a lot of help expressing himself. His parents are hoping that with his social development it will help improve him being around his peers.

My biggest concern is how will I be able to address Luke’s learning goals while trying to address the needs of all my other children in my class. Am I expected to work one on one with Luke every day? And if so, who will supervise the other children? Will Luke have therapists coming in to the classroom to work with him and how would that work?

What are the best ways to help Luke learn how to play with other children and participate in learning activities, such as story time or center time? And I want to involve Luke’s family in making these decisions.

Video 1.2: The family’s viewpoint

Christine, the mother of Luke, a 3 year old boy with developmental delays shares her view on a dilemma to include her son in a childcare program (running time: 2 min. 20 sec.).

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When we first thought about enrolling Luke in a childcare program, we were nervous and excited at the same time.

At the time, we were receiving early intervention home-based services, and Luke had already come so far with the help of his therapists.
We had a great babysitter who loved him dearly and put a lot of energy into teaching him.

We were somewhat reluctant to give that up, but we knew that Luke was missing the social piece of his development, not being around many children his age, and we heard great things about this particular school.

Everyone talked about the idea of inclusion which was new to us. He would be in the same classroom as typically developing children, but we were hesitant. Would he actually be playing and participating in this classroom?

My biggest concern was communication. Luke is able to communicate quite well within our family, but that’s because we’re familiar with his signs, his augmentative communication devices, and his general likes and dislikes. Would a teacher have the skills or the time and desire to gain those skills to successfully communicate with Luke in order to truly include him in the classroom?

If he can be successfully included, we are hopeful that Luke will learn more being surrounded by peers and be motivated to try new things. It’s an opportunity for him to learn how to fit in with children his own age, make friends, and be part of a community. The teacher we met, Jackie, seems open to working with Luke, although she acknowledged that she doesn’t have a lot of experience working with children with disabilities and knows only a few signs.

We were hoping that Luke’s speech goals would continue to be addressed through one on one therapy with a specialist. But the director told us that these goals would be embedded into Luke’s daily routines and activities in the classroom. That makes sense to us in theory because that’s basically what we had been doing at home already. But are we ready to hand over the reins to a teacher who also has an entire classroom to manage? We aren’t sure.