I just got this report from one of a group of ECE students (all female) that came for a 2 hour visit. The main theme of their visit was inclusion of children with additional needs, but you never miss a chance to throw in a good conversation about men in ECE (at least I never miss a chance) and thus this comment came back from the teacher after she asked the students to reflect on their visit. Hope this encourages you all.
"Another thing I was really impressed with was the inclusion of male staff and the emphasis that they put on the importance of having male staff at the center. I had never seen so many male staff working as ECE's in a center before and I thought it was great! I feel that children need the opportunity to interact and learn from both men and women in a daycare center. Men bring something different and important to daycare centers. They can teach and show the children that men are important in child care too. They also bring something different to the table, more rough-and-tumble play, and different emphasis in different areas as well, like for example, outdoors things, and building."
"The most impressive thing I felt that I saw was what I didn't see, or notice. We were told by the ECE's there that every room had a child with a disability enrolled there, and I couldn't pick out one. We were even challenged to guess which child had a disability in one room, and I couldn't. Their inclusion policy is implemented so well that the children with disabilities cannot be picked or pointed out without a staff or parent there to tell you which one it is. It was the best thing I had ever seen. The children were not treated differently, or kept separate from the other children, they were right in there doing all the same things and playing the same games etc. with the others, and it was perfect. I'm sure that some children play a little bit differently, or are at a different skill level, or whatever, but they were included in everything so well that they didn't seem different than the other children at all. I know that if I ever had a child with a disability that I would want that child to be treated with the same respect and consideration as any other child, and I would want my child to feel included despite any disability they may have, and they execute this so well at Discovery."
"I hope that I can take this information and use it in my own workplace. To start, I want to talk to the staff about making and posting an inclusion policy for all children, parents, and workers to see. Then I want to rearrange our room and make the environment more accessible for anyone who enters the center, making everyone feel welcome."
"I would go back to discovery in a heartbeat. I wish every child care centre was that inclusive and supportive of children's differences and uniqueness. It was an amazing trip and I feel like I did not have enough time to see it all! I would love to go back and interact with the children to see how they react to their surroundings on a more personal level. It has definitely influenced me to bring more of the outdoors into my centre!"
Discovery Children's Centre Inc.