The value of early childhood education has long been accepted.  We know that major developmental milestones occur before and immediately after birth and, significant brain development occurs particularly during the child’s first three years of life.  In a recent report from the National Association of School Boards of Education, a panel of experts included this comment in their recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education for universally offered pre-kindergarten:
If we are to truly reform our education system, we must begin by providing students with the skills they need to be successful prior to kindergarten.  
(The Pre-K Coalition, October 2011, page 8).
Early opportunities and support for learning are important for all children, but are essential for children with disabilities.  Inclusive practices that begin in early childhood settings create a powerful springboard for a more positive future, improved educational outcomes and post-school opportunities. 
This month, the Inclusive Schools NetworkTM focuses on early childhood education through a variety of resources and a blog interview featuring an expert on early intervention and education.  We also provide a wonderful resource for educators and parents – An Effective Practices Observation Tool for Early Childhood Education programs and services for children with disabilities. 
Many writers focus on the efficiency and cost savings related to early intervention, a major pillar of early childhood education.  While undoubtedly important, the real value of early childhood education services rests in the opportunity to address, remove, lessen or ideally avoid life-altering concerns and cement a strong path toward success for each child.  Thank you for joining us for the Inclusive Schools Network, January/February 2013 edition!

  Thank you,
  Frances Stetson, Ph.D.
  President, Stetson & Associates, Inc.

The Inclusive Classroom Profile (ICP) is a structured observation rating scale developed by The National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) to assess the quality of provisions and daily practices that support the developmental needs of children with disabilities in early childhood settings.

The 2013 CASEL Guide identifies well-designed, evidence-based social and emotional learning programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the United States and offers a description of best practices for district and school teams on how to implement social and emotional learning programs.

CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge offers free, instructional videos including this short video that provides an overview of inclusion, legal and policy foundations and inclusion research, as well as a definition, the desired results and defining features of inclusion in early childhood.

NICHY: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, offers a page of resources that parents and caregivers can share with Childcare Providers and Preschools about how to support children with disabilities in early childhood settings. 

The Head Start Center for Inclusion website contains a wealth of information on supporting and including young children with special needs in the classroom and home. 

Perkins School for the Blind offers strategies, adaptations and considerations for including children who are blind or visually impaired in preschool classrooms.

Free Social Stories, 
a short stories using pictures and words, as well as a variety of other useful, well-designed materials are available on this website. Social Stories were created specifically for children with autism to help them understand and behave appropriately in social situations.  

PEAK Parent Center Conference on Inclusion
February 7-8, 2013, Denver, CO

National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute
May 13-15, 2012, Chapel Hill, NC

2013 National Training Institute: Addressing Challenging Behavior
March 20-23, 2013, Clearwater, FL  
Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk is a report by ZERO TO THREE and CLASP that draws on newly conducted research on state efforts to expand and enhance access to Early Head Start services for infants, toddlers, and their families.


The District of Columbia’s ISW Celebration welcomed 300 parents and educators to the District’s first Inclusive Schools Capstone Event February 4, 2013. “Research shows that inclusive education benefits all students, not just those facing challenges in the classroom,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Leonard.  Read more...

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