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4 tweaks that can make your preschool classroom a little more inclusive!

By Wanda

In the vibrant world of preschool education, fostering inclusivity is an essential cornerstone for building a nurturing learning environment where every child feels valued, respected, and supported. This is especially prevalent in Singapore where we are moving towards a more inclusive learning environment. There is a need for us as educators, to ensure that our classrooms reflect the rich diversity present within our communities. By making a few simple tweaks to our classroom setup and practices, we can create a space that celebrates differences, cultivates empathy, and fosters a sense of belonging for all young learners.

Tweak #1: Flexible Seating Arrangements

In creating a classroom environment that caters to diverse needs, providing flexible seating arrangements is essential. This involves offering a variety of seating options such as cushions, bean bags, and adjustable chairs, to accommodate children's different sensory preferences and physical abilities. By doing so, we ensure that every child has the opportunity to find a comfortable and supportive seating option that enables them to engage fully in learning activities. Additionally, empowering children to choose their seating encourages autonomy and allows them to select the option that best suits their individual needs at any given time.

Tweak #2: Visual Schedule and Timers

Utilising visual schedules and timers is a valuable tool for fostering inclusivity in the classroom. These visual aids serve multiple purposes, including providing clear expectations, aiding in transitions, and supporting children with diverse learning styles and abilities. Visual schedules outline the daily routine in a format that is easily understandable, incorporating both pictures and written words to cater to children of varying language abilities. Similarly, countdown timers or visual timers help children anticipate transitions between activities, reducing anxiety and providing a sense of structure and predictability. By tailoring these supports to meet the individual needs of each child, we ensure that all students can navigate the classroom environment with confidence and success.

Tweak #3: Visual Signs and Labels

Displaying signs, labels, and visual cues in the classroom or community increases the students’ ability to understand and engage with their surroundings. This promotes accessibility for students using the space despite any language barriers. For example, instead of merely labelling timetables (circle time, lunch, nap time, etc.) or classroom stations (art and craft, quiet corner, etc.), we can include pictures or other visuals that represent those things. This will allow children who are not yet reading or speaking to still be able to follow classroom instructions and build understanding of the corresponding words represented by the visuals.

Tweak #4: Buddy System

Implementing a buddy system encourages positive relationships and peer support within the classroom. Pairing children with buddies provides opportunities for social connection and collaboration, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity. Older or more experienced students can act as mentors to younger or less confident peers, offering guidance and support while developing leadership skills and empathy. By promoting inclusive play and cooperation among buddies, we cultivate a classroom environment where every child feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive.

In embracing these simple tweaks, we embrace the diversity within our classroom and pave the way for a more inclusive and enriching learning experience for all our young learners!

Wanda is a Speech-Language Therapist from Jakarta (Indonesia), who now calls Singapore home. She currently supports children with their communication and feeding development, including for those diagnosed with speech sound disorders, language delays or disorders, ASD, ADHD, GDD, hearing impairments, selective mutism, and more. She believes in the power of collaborative work between therapists, caregivers, and teachers, and seeks to continue raising awareness about inclusivity in Singapore. She is a strong advocate for play-based, strength-focused, neurodiversity-affirming approaches.

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