In this section
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Social inclusion covers four broad areas:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Families are children’s first educators. When your school makes parents feel welcome and respected, children can thrive.
Social inclusion covers four broad areas:
Schools can play an important role in all four aspects.
The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.