To our fellow Educators,

A big thank you for joining us at our “Let’s get inclusive!” Naptime Webinar with Ms. Shelby Hiadan (NIEC-NP)!

We hope that through this webinar, you have gained a greater understanding of Inclusive Practice and learnt new ways to create a more inclusive classroom so that all children can play, learn and contribute meaningfully.



In case you've missed it...

Here are key highlights from our webinar!

Relive the moment - watch Shelby's presentation!

 

Catch a snippet of the Q&A segment that day! Hear what Mrs. Loke (Director, NIEC), Ms. Claire Chan (Lecturer, NIEC-TP) and Shelby have to say about Inclusive Practices. 

If not, you can always read up on Shelby's tips for a more inclusive classroom!





You've asked, we've answered 

During the Q&A, we've received so many questions from the audience and they were so good we had to share them here!

Q. Even after including visual, kinesthetic and auditory cues, what can educators do if a child has trouble focusing or staying still?
It is not just about how you can adjust the current activities in the classroom to make them more interesting and engaging, but also understanding the profile of the children and their interests so as to be able to select and provide the right materials for them. It is also important to note that managing a class is not just about managing the children's behaviour but the classroom environment as well.
Q. The movement breaks take 10 - 15 minutes at least. How else can educators use the movement breaks, or other methods, to get and retain children's attention?
Movement breaks should ideally be 5 minutes or less. One way to ensure that it does not take too long is to have a child perform 1 - 2 actions and let the rest of the children copy. Chunking of an activity can also help. This is when you divide a 15-minute activity into "chunks", checking in once in a while with the children to ensure they are doing ok and are able to follow and understand instructions.
Q. How do we identify if a child has developmental needs?
We leave the "proper" identification of children with developmental needs to the developmental pediatricians and psychologists. As teachers, one of our roles is to observe if there are children who are having difficulties in certain learning areas. From there, we help the child with his/her difficulty using various activities and strategies. Challenges and difficulties among children do persist; and if it does, we can take the next step and speak with the centre leader/principal about it. Thereafter, the parents can be included in the discussion, to see if there is a need to refer the child to a specialist for assessment or to try other activities and strategies.
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If you would like to enhance your knowledge on inclusive strategies to better support children with developmental needs in your classroom, check out the Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Learning Support (SDELS) and Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Intervention (Special Needs) (SDESN) courses offered at NIEC.
Q. A child with developmental needs is being ostracised by their peers. What can I do to encourage friendships and social connections among the children?
We would like to assure educators that this happens often, even with typically developing children. As teachers, we can foster and encourage social interactions in the classroom by scaffolding and guiding children to interact with one another. Sometimes, a simple move like placing books on friendships at the reading corner helps! It is also encouraged for educators to communicate often with the children and motivate them to be nice to one another. All these efforts could aid in promoting the awareness of self and others and can foster empathy towards others.
Q. "A high teacher-child ratio makes it difficult for educators to be inclusive."
This is a myth that should be busted! It is still possible to provide the necessary support and learning for the children despite having high teacher-child ratio in the classroom. The materials we make should be appropriate and easily adaptable for all children in our classrooms. It is also important to work together with other teachers by sharing resources and materials. This way, you can be assured to have enough materials to go around.
Q. What can educators do if they do not receive sufficient resources or support from centres to cater to children with developmental needs?
You do not need to have complicated or fanciful learning materials. All you need are ideas and a couple of items that can be readily found around the classroom! For example, making tracing letters with salt and sand to help the child learn about letter formations. Alternatively, you can even use the same materials for the whole class, with some adjustments for the child with developmental needs.
Q. What if parents do not want to engage with us on their child who needs additional support?
Finding out more from the parent on how he/she supports the child at home, sharing positive moments that took place in class or providing them with classroom strategies which are easily adaptable for use at home can help to develop a stronger relationship between teacher and parent. This makes it easier to encourage parents to be more inclusive towards the support of their child. Most importantly, we should also assure parents with words of encouragement because it is not easy looking after a child with developmental needs 24/7 and a little dose of positivity goes a long way.
Q. Are there any resources for educators to introduce inclusion to children?
Yes, there are! In partnership with the National Library Board (NLB), we have collated a list of children books that introduce inclusion and talk about the value of embracing individuality, kindness and diversity. In this list, you will find useful learning resources to enhance your knowledge on inclusive strategies to better support children with developmental needs in your classroom as well. Click here to download it now!




Wanna know more about Inclusive Practice?  
Read this article written by our faculty!

Thinking and being inclusive is a journey   
By Rathi Devi D/O Balachandran, Lead Curriculum Specialist, NIEC
April 11, 2022  

Being inclusive is a journey in which every person should venture on together. In a preschool environment, we acknowledge that however different our journeys may look, we are optimistic that we will reach our destination. Having a foundation of solid relationship in the work environment and with the children in the class may be an underlying solution to most perceived barriers during this journey.

So, how can we start this journey of thinking and being inclusive when there is so much happening in our everyday classroom?

Inclusivity can be thought of as everyone participating and being meaningfully engaged, and as a result successfully meeting your classroom goals and the learning objectives of the children.

Embracing inclusion also encompasses adopting a strengths-based approach in our vision when we look at a child. As educators, we are attentive to the interests and unique abilities of each child almost intuitively. The values of care and compassion manifest as we look at every child, with or without developmental needs, as a child first who has so much potential to learn and grow based on their individual attributes. It is vital to extend the care and compassion to us educators as we assure ourselves that our existing lesson plan for example, is good enough and we are doing well. Including everyone merely means taking a step up to increase engagement for all children, mindfully looking if anyone is left out and ensuring all children are having fun in class. 

It is important to remember that we evaluate the child’s learning and not the child. For some of us, this may be hard in the beginning. For starters, it is a good idea to celebrate and encourage the small wins and milestones together with fellow colleagues and all the children in the class. To help you further, here is an example of a common challenge we educators may face and strategies to counter it.

 Challenge: 1-2 children are inattentive and uninterested in the activities/materials presented to them to engage with.

Possible strategy: Giving child/children choice and grouping them by learning modality or interest.


You may choose the activity or material but provide the child choice. By doing so, the likeliness that a child will participate is higher as he/she is empowered and intrinsically motivated to engage. In the activities and materials presented, include objects of interest where possible. Another way is to split the children into 2 - 3 groups, prepare the activities or materials accordingly and get each group to choose what they want to engage in. If there is a child with developmental needs in the group, when providing choice, include a highly motivating object within the activities/materials or explicitly offer a high interest object as a reward upon completion of activity.

If those don’t work, here are some other key strategies to manage behaviour in the classroom! (applicable for use for all students):  

Positive reinforcements: Reward positive behaviours in class through specific and descriptive praise, motivate peer encouragement through practicing common class values or recording via a chart.

Replacement: Teaching appropriate behaviours to replace inappropriate behaviours in the classroom. For instance, teaching children to express themselves using words instead of hitting others with their hands or throwing things.

Calm down spaces:
Usually used for children for brief periods of times, when tantrums have escalated and child is unable to calm down. All children in the class should have been taught to effectively engage in self-regulation techniques when they have to move to this calm down space before they re-join the main activity.

Now that you have these strategies, coupled with your sound knowledge of children’s abilities and established relationships with your fellow educators, you are ready to take on any challenges that may occur in your classroom! 




For more resources

Click here to download a copy of the digital handout for a checklist you can place in your classroom to act as a daily reminder and a template of the movement cube to use with your children.

Click here for useful learning resources which you can use to enhance your knowledge on inclusive strategies to better support children with developmental needs.


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