Two months remain in this school year, so it’s time to start thinking about the best placement for kids with special needs. Guest blogger Katie Barkley of the CLC Network serves up some inclusion food for thought in today’s post. Even if you don’t live in the vicinity of the CLC Network schools, her advice may give you some ideas to pursue where you do live.
Inclusive Education: A Guide for Parents
Corey, the youngest of six, wanted to attend Sussex Christian School just like his older siblings, despite being non-verbal and having significant communication impairments. When he entered the school two years ago, his language exploded, his confidence grew, and his friendliness became a blessing to others. The community at Sussex Christian became more complete because Corey was a member – just like his classmates – of that school.
Our friend Kathy had difficulty finding an inclusive learning environment for her son in California. She wanted her son, who has high-functioning autism, to be educated with his neuro-typical peers in a general education setting. Acting on faith, Kathy and her husband moved to Michigan so their son could attend Zeeland Christian School – a place where he would be welcomed, supported, and included.
I rejoice when I hear stories like these: students that grow, classes that are transformed, friends that are blessed, schools that are more complete because students at all levels of ability are included. It’s a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God.
Parents, is your son or daughter experiencing this type of community at school? If not, there are some steps you can take to encourage your school administration to pursue inclusive education and become a place where each student is academically, socially, and spiritually supported so the Kingdom can be more complete.
How to Talk to Your School about Inclusive Education
- Watch a movie. Take your administrator or key teacher out to lunch or coffee and share Including Isaac, a short video of how one Christian school included a student with significant needs. (If you’d like a DVD of this video to show your administrator, please contact us.)
- Share a book. Give them a copy of Barbara J. Newman’s Any Questions? or Nuts and Bolts of Inclusive Education. Any Questions? provides an overview of inclusive education and addresses many questions parents and schools have asked us over the years. Nuts and Bolts gives a comprehensive look into the steps a school can take to welcome a student with higher levels of need.
- Talk about mission. What is the mission statement of your school? How does this relate back to the education you want for all of your children, regardless of their level of ability? Talk about this with your administrator or key teacher.
- It’s all about community. Inclusive education is a portrait of the Body of Believers addressed in 1 Corinthians 12, where each member is contributing their strengths to benefit the entire body. A community is not complete when essential members are missing. Inclusive education is for the benefit of the entire school, and not just students with significant needs.
- Phone a friend. We can help you imagine the possibilities and work with you and your school to create an environment that provides your son or daughter with learning and social opportunities alongside their neurotypical peers. Contact us at 616.245.8388 or visit our website.
- Take a tour. Sometimes it’s helpful to see how other schools are “doing inclusion”. We invite interested parents and administrators to tour CLC Network partner schools of various sizes and backgrounds to help them imagine what inclusion can look like.
At CLC Network, we want your child to receive a quality education in an environment where they thrive. Our staff of teacher consultants and psychologists want to equip and support parents and schools to educate all of God’s children. Fighting for your child to be included doesn’t need to be a struggle – let us help.
One parent told us after sending her son to a CLC Network partner school that she doesn’t have to advocate for him anymore because the teachers and administrators also want what’s best for him. What a blessing! Isn’t this the way it should be? If there are ways that we can be of service, please contact us at 616.245.8388 or visit our website.
Katie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network, where she curates and writes about inclusion on the blog, Making Us Whole. She is inspired by stories that share the beauty of inclusive communities.
Do you like what you see at DifferentDream.com? You can receive more great content by subscribing to the quarterly Different Dream newsletter and signing up for the daily RSS feed delivered to your email inbox. You can sign up for the first in the pop up box and the second at the bottom of this page.