I am always on the look out for a good Early Years read, and when you find a book that is not only full of useful information, but has also been written by someone you know understands Early Years and practitioners – well that is just a bonus!
I have worked with Kathy on a number of occasions delivering conferences and training for EYP’s (now EYT’s) in the North West.
This is the third of Kathy’s books that I have read and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing a quick guest blog post to give you some more information about it.
Kathy is also giving away five copies of the book. If you fancy getting your hands on one, then follow the link at the end of the blog post. Kathy’s book giveaway starts on 11th July, so make sure you pop back to her site next week!
Inclusion and Early Years Practice
Inclusion is a complicated concept, which can be viewed from many perspectives; Keith Savage makes a lovely analogy in our co-authored book Inclusion and Early Years Practice. Inclusion is like standing at the bottom of a hill. You can only see your side of the hill, but as you travel around the hill you will get more varied views. It is only when you have surmounted that hill that you can appreciate all the different viewpoints.
Inclusion is a very large ‘hill’ on which most practitioners have a uniquely personal perspective, as well as a professional understanding. For example, when you see the word ‘inclusion’ do you automatically think of Special Educational Needs (SEN)? Or maybe your experience is with including travelling families in your setting. It could be that you have children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) and including their languages into your classroom is part of your daily routine.
Just as your understanding of inclusion may be different to someone else’s, your inclusive practice may be different. This may be based on personal experience, training and education you may have had or the policies and procedures of the setting.
For one of the chapters that I contributed to in the Inclusion book, I focused on the experiences of a family who have a child with special educational needs. This was a direct result of hearing about a family’s experience whilst using a setting: The mum had been queuing up with all the other mums waiting to pick her child up, when she overheard a conversation in front of her about a child being bitten. The mum knew that her child, who had complex special needs, was prone to biting. She felt awkward and embarrassed about listening to this conversation, knowing that it was probably her child who was the biter. In the end, she had to make a difficult choice, and chose to interrupt and explain about her child’s additional needs to the other parents.
This really struck home with me, as I have always been very proactive in treating all parents the same, and felt I have always been very inclusive with parents whose child had special educational needs – and lining up outside together had always been a part of my inclusive practice. However, this incident did make me wonder how many similar conversations or similar experiences had been had outside of the setting whilst I was SENCO. So, when I had this opportunity to write about inclusion, my first thought was to explore what it felt like as a family member of the child with special educational needs attending a setting.
This turned out to be a fascinating piece of research, with many more people involved with the family that I had first imagined. The list consisted of multiagency staff, specialist staff and practitioners, but also encompassed extended family, who often help with childcare of siblings during hospital appointments, multiagency meetings and so on. There are also some implications for the development of the emotional relationship between siblings. In my research, I found that the younger brother had developed empathy and understanding beyond the expectations of his age. Probably the most heartening result of this research was that families really appreciate the help and support given by practitioners. And even when things don’t go according to plan, they can fully appreciate that their best interests were at the forefront of good practice.
Whilst editing and writing for this book, one thing became very obvious – even though good inclusive practice can be a difficult hill to climb sometimes, but it is well worth the view from the top.