Majoring in Early Childhood Education has provided me with many opportunities in which allowed me to broaden my horizons. However, I feel that the most beneficial experience I have had was when I worked at the RISE School of Stillwater. The RISE School is a preschool where children with disabilities attend school with children who do not have disabilities. I did a field experience there and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. The overall lesson I took from working at the RISE School was the importance of inclusion in the classroom. Inclusion, to me, means involving every child in every aspect of learning that is provided in the classroom no matter what the subject matter or content area. Never have I seen a better job example of this than at the RISE School.
Throughout the day at RISE, children participate in breakfast, music therapy, centers, art, circle time, outside play, and lunch. Every child is given the same amount of attention no matter what their physical or intellectual level may be. When I first started observing and working with the children I thought that this might hold back the children who do not have a disability but what I noticed is that it was actually helping them. Those children who did not need as much one-on-one help or guidance were helping those children that did. I noticed this especially during centers. The children would all be playing as if they were all the same person. The children could not tell a difference and I believe this is because the faculty and staff at the school did such an amazing job with inclusion.
Along with doing group activities, the children were all taught self help skills. Every 3- and 4-year-old needs help learning how to wash their hands, throw their trash away, and take their plates to the sink. The teachers in the classroom spent time with each child showing and guiding them along throughout their daily activities. Each child got a turn during meals or snacks to help pass food out and during circle time, each child got a turn to do the activity. Inclusion, such as that demonstrated by the RISE School, is missing out of so many schools today. I saw the importance of including every child in every lesson and in the 14 weeks I was there I could visibly see a difference in the children with disabilities. They liked being challenged and were learning and growing from it. Include every child in your lessons, you could be the guidance and support they need.