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Three factors that make up an inclusive school

It was heartening to read about Kindle Garden, Singapore’s first inclusive preschool, in “‘Eye-opening’ inclusive pre-school programme draws raves” (April 1). The preschool also reports a waiting list of 25 neuro-typical and 100 neuro-atypical children for admission. That is fantastic.

Noel Chia Kok Hwee

It was heartening to read about Kindle Garden, Singapore’s first inclusive preschool, in “‘Eye-opening’ inclusive pre-school programme draws raves” (April 1). The preschool also reports a waiting list of 25 neuro-typical and 100 neuro-atypical children for admission. That is fantastic.

Non-profit organisation AWWA has taken a bold step in promoting inclusivity by embracing the diversity of our young children. It should be applauded for its effort to make a difference to the lives of children with and without special needs.

Other service providers may want to learn how to set up an inclusive preschool from AWWA so more children with special needs can benefit from an inclusive early-childhood education.

I want to highlight three factors in what makes a good inclusive preschool: EpisTeme, techne and telos — the “what”, “how” and “why” of learning, respectively. These factors constitute what has been termed the triple-T model of learning in special education.

In the context of Universal Design for Learning, episteme constitutes the first principle: Provision of multiple means of representation. Since children differ in the ways they perceive information, it is important that information be presented through different modalities and adjustable formats, to list just two examples here.

Techne constitutes Universal Design for Learning’s second principle: Provision of multiple means of action and expression. Children differ in the ways they go about learning and expressing what they know.

For example, a child with cerebral palsy would struggle with motor coordination in writing; another child with executive function disorder would display poor organisational skills. And so they approach learning tasks differently and manifest their mastery differently, too. Hence, for the child with cerebral palsy, we can provide options for physical action through appropriate assistive technology. And we can guide the child with executive function challenges by setting appropriate, attainable learning goals.

Telos constitutes the third principle: Provision of multiple means of engagement. Since there is no one optimal way of engaging all children in their learning, options are important, for example, to maximise relevance and authenticity of lesson content.

I look forward to more inclusive preschools being set up to allow our young children with or without special needs to mingle with one another. In this way, when they become adults, they would be more inclusive by embracing diversity.

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