CCCH art

  • Volume 4, No 1 - Socially inclusive learning. February 2015

    Children achieve better social and learning outcomes when their different abilities, interests and cultural practices are understood and supported. You can extend understanding and support to children and families with inclusive practice.

    Children achieve better social and learning outcomes when their different abilities, interests and cultural practices are understood and supported. You can extend understanding and support to children and families with inclusive practice.

    Socially inclusive approaches in your school or early childhood setting an essential part of helping children and their families to enjoy a safe and stimulating learning environment. Being socially inclusive also helps to improve family functioning and build strength in your community. There is a particular need for you to establish shared values and expectations if there are big differences between the cultural norms at your school or early childhood setting and families’ norms.

    Closing the achievement gap

    Gaps in how children are developing can be seen from a young age. Those achievement gaps rarely close as children grow and go to school, but get further apart.

    Everyone feels valued and respected

    Social exclusion is not the same as poverty, though there is some overlap. Social exclusion is about our connections to our community and how well we feel included. In this way, social inclusion covers the different dimensions that contribute to our wellbeing: economic, social, and cultural activities. 
    In the early childhood years, having parents who are actively involved in children’s learning and development is directly linked to positive outcomes for children. The relationship that early childhood educators and teachers have with parents is linked to children’s experience.

    The values of social inclusion

    At the heart of social inclusion there are six key values:
    Everyone is ready – None of us has to pass a test or meet a set of criteria before we can be included.
    Everyone can learn – As human beings we all grow and change and make mistakes: and we are all capable of learning.
    Everyone needs support – Sometimes, some of us need more support than others.
    Everyone can communicate – Not using words doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to say.
    Everyone can contribute – We need to recognise, encourage and value each person’s contributions— including our own.
    Together we are better.

    Working in partnership

    Parents, early childhood educators and teachers are partners in the journey of education and development for children. The partnership you develop with parents, which is central to feeling included, needs to be built on mutual respect, shared decision-making and shared understanding. 

    When you work in partnership with families and with other professionals that are involved in the lives of the children and families, it helps everyone to:

    • feel welcome, respected and valued
    • feel comfortable, confident and supported in their roles
    • feel a sense of satisfaction from the trust others place in them
    • work through differences, allowing the adults to continue working together to support children
    • benefit from the resources, ideas and energy that others provide
    • benefit from shared decision-making
    • see things from other people’s perspectives
    • develop strong connections with children
    • feel a sense of satisfaction when children explore, learn and develop their skills
    • have more opportunities to discuss child development.

    Learn more

    What role can child and family services play? Find out more about  social inclusion and child and family services.
    There’s practical advice for  involving parents in school and childcare on the  Raising Children Network.
    Child Family Community Australia has great resources for working with children, families and communities.

    Working inclusively in early childhood settings

    Families are children’s first educators. By being socially inclusive and making parents feel welcome and respected, early childhood education and care services can help children to thrive.

    Social inclusion covers four broad areas:

    • the ability to be part of society through working and accessing the necessary services
    • being able to connect with family, friends and the local community
    • being able to deal with personal crises, such as falling ill or losing a job
    • being heard.

    Working and using services

    Early childhood education and care settings are an essential part of the support that families need, as well as being part of helping children’s healthy development. Quality early childhood programs:

    • contribute to children’s social and emotional development, increasing their resilience
    • have positive long-term effects, including reducing children’s risk of dropping out of school in later life and being unemployed as an adult.

    Connecting with family, friends and community

    The type of social connections that develop from feeling like you’re part of a community are important for children’s development. When children feel a sense of belonging, their social and emotional development benefits. When their family feels connected in their neighbourhood this can have positive benefits in many areas, including their mental health.

    Personal crisis

    A serious personal crisis – job loss, serious illness – can have long-term damaging effects for children and families. Families who feel listened to and welcomed in your setting may be more likely to reach out for help when they need it.

    Being heard

    When children and families feel ‘heard’, they have the chance to identify what they need, provide feedback, and be involved in decisions that will impact their lives.

    Making social inclusion part of your practice

    Working in a socially inclusive way is important for the healthy development of children and for the wellbeing of their families. At your setting, consider:

    • Are there ways to put parents in touch with the services in your community that can help them to secure employment?
    • What opportunities are there at your setting for parents to develop practical skills?
    • Can you offer a space where parents can socialise together?
    • Do children at your setting have the chance to interact with one another and make new friends?
    • What informal supports can you offer to assist families in a time of crisis? How can you bolster those supports?
    • How can you encourage families to participate in decision making opportunities at your setting?

    Learn more

                 

    Ways for schools to be more inclusive

    Families are children’s first educators. When your school makes parents feel welcome and respected, children can thrive. 

    Social inclusion covers four broad areas:

    • the ability to be part of society through working and accessing the necessary services
    • being able to connect with family, friends and the local community
    • being able to deal with personal crises, such as falling ill or losing a job
    • being heard.

    Schools can play an important role in all four aspects.

    Working and using services

    Schools are an essential part of the support that families need, as well as being part of helping children’s healthy development. Your school:
    • contributes to children’s social and emotional development, increasing their resilience
    • has positive long-term effects, including reducing children’s risk of dropping out of school later in life and being unemployed as an adult.

    Connecting with family, friends and community

    The sorts of social connections that develop from feeling like you’re part of a community are important for children’s development. When children feel a sense of belonging their social and emotional development benefits. When their family feels connected in their neighbourhood this can have positive benefits for their mental health. 

    Personal crisis

    A serious personal crisis – job loss, serious illness – can have long-term damaging effects for children and families. Families who feel listened to and welcomed at school might be more likely to reach out for help when they need it. 

    Being heard

    When children and families feel ‘heard’, they have the chance to identify what they need, provide feedback, and be involved in decisions that will impact their lives. 

    Making social inclusion part of your school

    Working in a socially inclusive way is important for the healthy development of children and for the wellbeing of their families. At your school, consider:
    • If necessary, are there ways to put parents in touch with the services in your community that can help them to secure employment?
    • What opportunities are there at your school for parents to develop practical skills?
    • Can you offer a space where parents can socialise together?
    • What informal supports can you offer to assist families in a time of crisis? How can you bolster those supports?
    • How can you encourage families to participate in decision-making opportunities?

    Learn more

 

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.