Inclusion in the classroom involves promoting active involvement, participation and recognition of special education students in a classroom setting. While special needs students have often been segregated from other students, recent trends have focused on increased inclusion of special needs students in classrooms with the general student population. Inclusion is a controversial subject but is important for many reasons both academic and social.
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Advocates of inclusion classrooms argue that inclusion will increase individual achievement, specifically for students with special needs. The more challenging environment of a mainstream classroom can arguably help special needs children achieve more academically and socially than they would in a typical special needs classroom.
Including students via class participation and group activities is an important element in developing special needs children socially. The more these children are able to interact with and speak in front of their peers, the more they will be able to become comfortable with mainstream classroom behaviour and broader social behaviour. Children who are not actively included in the classroom and are otherwise shy, may find themselves feeling increasingly isolated and develop a negative self-image, particularly if they feel they are being treated differently because they are special needs children.
Encourage Students to Pay Attention
Students often find it hard to pay attention in classes they find boring or uninteresting. Even an interesting class can fail to fully engage a student. This is especially true of younger children. By focusing on inclusion, you can better encourage many special needs students to pay attention. A child who knows they may be called on to participate or answer a question is more likely to pay attention. He may fear being unprepared when singled out. Additionally, more challenging course material may force some students to more actively follow the material than in a special needs classroom.
Fostering Understanding and Acceptance
Proponents of inclusion classrooms also argue that there are benefits for the entire student population, not just special needs students. These proponents highlight the benefits of interacting with students with disabilities to foster an environment of inclusion and understanding. Many students who are segregated from special needs students throughout their academic career may develop unrealistic stereotypes of special needs students.
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