Finding a shared definition of early childhood inclusion has not always been an easy task for those of us in the field of early care and education. I remember quite well walking into my first teaching experience, a classroom full of toddlers, all of which had unique abilities and needs. I asked myself, “Is this inclusion?”
When I was a beginning teacher, simply having children with disabilities enrolled in my class made it an “inclusive” class. I quickly learned that getting each child engaged in daily routines and activities took intentional preparation and planning. Getting extra planning time, additional training, access to adaptive materials, or the right support staff was not always easy, and sometimes felt impossible. I learned quickly in that first teaching experience that a high quality environment did not always equate to a high quality inclusive experience for each child in my care.