How to Integrate Children With Disabilities Into Preschool

By David B. Ryan
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Integrating children with disabilities into mainstream classes helps kids develop social skills and advance quickly in motor development, language and cognitive skills, according to experts with the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative. Federal laws under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act require schools to have basic accommodations for your special child, and preschools must make "reasonable" accommodations for a child formally identified as having disabilities. Your preschooler's disabilities must fit into a general category, including serious emotional disturbance, learning disability, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury or autism. Children with vision or hearing impairments, physical disability or health impairments also qualify for federal accommodations.

Step 1

List your child's special needs on paper, including specific equipment and educational aids. Group the listings into necessary and recommended, and star the most-important needs.

Step 2

Select a preschool that matches your child's physical challenges. Inspect the physical features at the school and locate a place that has special accommodations in place for your child. Ask school administrators about adding missing features when the school meets your standards in other important areas, such as curriculum design with features matching your preschooler's needs.

Step 3

Meet with the preschool administrators and teachers to discuss your child's special needs and review your list of needs.

Step 4

Review the preschool calendar of weekly activities and events to plan a schedule of daily events for your child's special challenges.

Step 5

Develop a daily checklist for your child for the preschool staff to complete at the end of each day or use your child's individual education plan developed with a pediatrician. Incorporate checks for routine procedures and enough space for staff to comment on any difficulties or challenges your preschooler experienced during the school day. Ask school supervisors and teachers to make suggestions on the form to improve your child's experiences at the school. Talk with your preschooler daily about school experiences, and explore ways to make the days more enjoyable for your child.

Step 6

Take your child to the school to introduce the school procedures and activities. Supervise each day until your child feels comfortable completing the tasks alone or with assistance from the teachers and assistants at the preschool.

About the Author

David B. Ryan has been a professional writer since 1989. His work includes various books, articles for "The Plain Dealer" in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.