Duck, Duck-Colors and Words Early Childhood Inclusion

Article excerpt

Joey, can you find the word purple? Everyone, say "purple." Who thinks they can find the purple duck?

John, you find It. Give it to Sally. Sally, find the purple bowl and make the duck swim.

Let's all count the swimming ducks.

Fun and games with ducks and water-what could be dearer to the hearts of preschoolers everywhere? Learning through typical early childhood activities-in an inclusive preschool-is the objective of lessons presented here.

This article describes a process by which preschool teachers can meet the individual needs of all children while maintaining a group instructional format. Teachers can use it in any classroom with any appropriate early childhood curricula and materials.

LEAP Process

We have used this process at the LEAP Preschool (Learning Experiences process at the LEAP Preschool (Learning Experiences . . . An Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Parents) for more than 15 years. More than 12 peer-reviewed studies have validated the process (Strain & Cordisco, 1993). LEAP integrates children with autism and youngsters without disabilities, all between the ages of 2.5 to 5 years.

The process involves several instructional strategies:

Linking assessment to curriculum.

Selecting appropriate lessons.

Planning for teacher-directed, individualized group instruction.

Employing behavior management techniques during group instruction.

Systematically collecting data.

Many teachers find it difficult to provide individualized instruction to a diverse group of children. Yet educators of children with disabilities need to devise individualized goals, materials, instruction, and feedback to ensure effective intervention (Bailey & Wolery, 1992 ). We have found that the LEAP individualized group instruction model is an effective way to provide appropriate education-using typical settings and activities, such as water play, color games, and taking turns with toys like the colored ducks in our example. Teachers can use the LEAP process along with the materials (objectives listings, assessment instruments, and lesson activities) typically available in early childhood programs.

Step 1: Linking Assessment to Curriculm

This step involves child assessment-the results of which dictate the scope and sequence (curriculum) of instruction on a child-by-child basis.

You should complete assessments for children with special needs when they enter the program and update your assessments at 3-month intervals. The assessment instrument we used records developmental ages in different skill areas (e.g., fine motor, cognitive, social, language, gross motor, self-help). The "functioning ranges" in each skill area, or the "functioning age levels," are listed on the top of the Objective Sheet (see Figure 1). A list of all the objectives chosen for the child is also available. Update this sheet after every 3-month assessment. Select objectives for each child in each skill area. In Figure 1, the skills dated under "Date Began" are initial objectives.

Next, task analyze objectives and write them on a Goal Plan Form (Figure 2, page 68). You should probably collect data daily until the child meets the criterion stated on the Goal Plan Form. When the child completes an objective, select a new one. You may select additional objectives at any time, depending on the needs of the child. The Goal Plan Form lists individualized objectives that you have selected for each child. Group objectives so that each child will be learning one or more objectives per group activity or lesson.

Step 2: Selecting Lessons

You may have many different lessons occurring each day. Plan a lesson to meet the individual needs (objectives) for each child in the group for each class activity (e.g., free play, snack, clean-up, circle). After you plan a lesson, write it on an index card. On the reverse of the index card, list all the individual objectives that are included in that lesson (see Figure 3, page 69). …