Mainstreaming kids with disabilities to regular classrooms

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Mainstreaming kids with disabilities to regular classrooms

 Disability is any form of impairment that makes a person not to function normally, hence requiring support from other member of the society.   These disabilities may be innate or may be caused by the environment.   Disabled kids like any other kids are entitled to the right to education and any another assistance to help them grow and realize their dreams. Mainstreaming   refers to putting together children with special needs (disabled) with the normal ones in the regular classes.  Varied views and opinions have been postulated on whether these children with special need to be placed in regular classes or not.  Nevertheless, despite the criticism of mainstreaming, it is a good method of learning and should be encouraged.

According to Lisa, Peterson, Pope, and Jeon mainstreaming of kids with disabilities is done with the hope that it helps improve the self-esteem of children, boost academic achievement of the kid and at the same time such children are provided with special attention from their teachers (93).  Children at tender age are sensitive to things that happen around them. Furthermore, they like playing and doing things in groups. When children with disabilities are left alone, they feel that they are not loved and they may develop a feeling of inferiority complex triggering their cognitive development. Therefore, self esteem will not develop as they will always feel not complete like their fellow kids. Hence, by putting them in same class, such children feel that they are loved and appreciated and this helps them to overcome negative feelings about their conditions.  Mainstreaming is also helpful as it helps to boost the academic performance of disabled children. Such children will be challenged to compete favorable with their colleagues since regular classroom encourage competition. Therefore, the environment will provide a challenge forcing these kids adapt to hence triggering positive performance (Lisa, Peterson, Pope, and Jeon 93).  Another importance of mainstreaming of kids is that it helps the children with special needs or disabilities to be attended by their teachers like any other kids. The teacher can also assist the disabled kids by motivating them and encouraging, understanding and support form the other kids. This will help built a sense of understanding and appreciation among kids therefore, as they grow up the children will be able to take good care of the disabled colleagues and appreciate them.

Mainstreaming is the only way that fairness in education can be attained.  Disability is not necessarily inability. Kids who are disabled are not cursed but they have potentials like the normal kids and if this is nurtured they can perform better beyond expectations.  The motivation behind introduction of mainstreaming became evident in 1997 upon passage of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that allowed access of same education to all kids.   Furthermore, No Child Left behind Act passed in 2001 provided the opportunity for fairness and equal opportunities for the children. Therefore kids with disabilities are supposed to be incorporated in the normal system to avoid secluding them on basis of disabilities.

Mainstreaming of disabled kids helps in enhancing and embracing individual differences among kids in their class contexts.  This environment helps a teacher to accommodate or embrace the dynamic and different needs of kids instead of just focusing on the disabled kids. Further, this allows effective learning as individual differences among kids will not be the focus of learning. It therefore, requires a teacher that is flexible and who employees different approaches and methodologies such as auditory, tactile, visual and kinesics in the learning process as this experience improve the learning experience of the kids.

Mainstreaming also helps in increasing positive social and behavioral skills of the kids. Children in this environments are able to learn through interactions hence understand the importance of respecting each other. Therefore, kids will improve their social skills as they will engage in their activities like playing together, this helps in reducing stereotypical behaviours of kids at this early age as well as they grow to maturity. Furthermore, mainstreaming helps in reducing noncompliant and aggressive behaviours. Kids will develop appositive attitude and will gain understanding that they need to appreciate their differences and accommodate them in whatever they do.

In contrast, mainstreaming has been criticized by some stakeholders. According to Ruth teaching kids with disabilities is complex and therefore require teachers who have specialized training to be able to provide good learning environment (1149). The attitude of teachers varies and it is important that the teacher’s behaviours and interest to children with disabilities should be considered before planning on their inclusion in the program.  According to McLeskey & Waldron, schools are an impediment to the program of mainstream (23). Many schools have no infrastructures and policies that guide them or help them on how to deal or incorporate those students will disabilities.

Furthermore, Ruth asserts that fairness among teachers is cited as one of the limitations of mainstreaming (1149). Teachers believe that by including disabled kids to the general education classroom is unfair since it hinder other kids from performing well. This is because, such kids causes unreasonable demands on the teachers which causes distraction to the teaching process. The time that is allocated or used in attending to such kids with disabilities consumes the time that would otherwise been used in teaching the general class (Zambelli and Bonni 45). Others have criticized mainstreaming because it tends to slow down the class.  The pace of learning will be affected as teachers will be required to attend to special cases kids to be able to move at the same wavelength with the other kids hence making learning process slow.

Another criticism is that mainstreaming disabled kids with the general class will also lead to social rejections since these disabled kids may have social difficulties (Ruth 1154). Therefore, some kids my look down upon them and ridicule or despise on them as lesser human beings. This will make such children feel isolated from the larger community of kids. Furthermore, these kids will be an easy target of bullying as some kids with mischievous behavior will capitalize on their disability to mistreat them.  Another argument against mainstreaming is that this will tend to lower the self esteem of kids with disability. They will feel inferior to the environment of learning in which they are placed. They may feel a sense of different and loneliness which may affect their concentration in class and in their work. Therefore, the opponents of mainstream think that it leads to lowered self esteem.

Furthermore, mainstreaming is believed to lead to teachers neglect to other students (Ruth 1150). In these regular classes teachers are required to spend a long period in attending to the needs of disabled students. For instance, kids with problems with hearing will require more attention as compared to normal kids hence this will affect the learning of the general class. In addition, some critics argue that the costs of supporting such arrangements are costly in terms of the training of teacher and provision of learning materials. Therefore, schools will have to adjust their budget to be able to train their teachers on how to incorporate these students in their classroom to ensure that all the children benefit from the learning process without necessarily compromising on the situation of a kid.

Nevertheless, amidst all these criticism, the idea of mainstreaming is the best option that will enhance development of cognitive and social skills among kids with disabilities apart from gaining from the learning environment. The critics of mainstreaming cite reasons that are attainable if appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate the negative impacts. The problems of mainstreaming mainly revolve around teachers and the kids themselves. Teachers in the general education process just need to posses, attitudes, beliefs, skills and dispositions that can enable them to be effective, confident to teach both children with varying abilities and level of achievement including those with disabilities. For instance Ford, Pugach, and Otis- Wilborn provide suggestions in enhancing the teacher skills to be accommodative in their teaching of kids with disabilities (17). The teachers need to have an understanding of both the social, political and historical concepts of disabilities, know about requirement of special education system and characteristics of disability to be able to teach and accommodate those kids that require special needs, should be always committed to teach full range of learners with disabilities and be willing to work in collaborative structure.  This will help teachers to accommodate all kinds of kids regardless of their disabilities and abilities. The teacher will also be able to provide good instruction and guidance to other kids on the need to respect and accommodate those with disabilities. Therefore, based on the arguments mainstreaming of disabled children to the regular classes is preferred.


Works Cited

Ford, A., Pugach, M. C., & Otis-Wilborn, A. 2001. “Preparing general educators to work well      with students who have disabilities.” What’s reasonable at the pre-service level?           Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 24, 275–285.

Lisa, Knoche, Carla, Peterson, Carolyn, Pope, and Edwards, Jeon. 2006. “Child care for children             with and without disabilities: The provider, observer, and parent perspectives.”  Early           Childhood Research Quarterly, 21.1: 93-109. Print.

McLeskey, J., & Waldron, N. L. 2000. Inclusive schools inaction: Making differences ordinary.     Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Ruth, Wiebe. 2008. “Novice teachers’ conceptions of fairness in inclusion classrooms.”
            Teaching and Teacher Education, 24.5:1149-1159. Print.

Zambelli, F., & Bonni, R. 2004. “Beliefs of teachers in Italian schools concerning the inclusion     of disabled students.”  A Q-sort analysis. European Journal of Special Needs Education,

19, 351–366.


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