Education is a fundamental right of every child, including those with special needs. Education plays a critical role in shaping the lives of children, enabling them to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for success in life. Schools are the primary institutions where children receive formal education, and as such, it is essential to ensure that they provide a safe and conducive learning environment that meets the diverse needs of learners.
In this blog, I will briefly explore the three types of schools – mainstream schools, inclusive schools, and integrated schools – and examine their differences. I will also discuss the best inclusive schools in Noida and the parameters to keep in mind while selecting schools for special needs.
Mainstream schools are traditional schools that cater to the needs of typically developing students. These schools focus on providing academic instruction to students and often follow a standardized curriculum. Mainstream schools may offer extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and drama, but the prime focus is mainly on academic achievement.
Mainstream schools typically have a standardized approach to teaching and learning and may not always provide individualized attention to students who require additional support. Mainstream schools often have limited or no resources to support students with special needs, which can make it challenging for these students to access the curriculum fully. They lack a dedicated special needs department and educators who can meet the demands and support of special needs. As a result, students with special needs may struggle to keep up with their peers, leading to low self-esteem and a lack of motivation to learn.
Some mainstream schools do provide admission to a special needs child but they put a demand of hiring a shadow teacher to the parents to support their special needs child in the school premises. So dealing with all the challenges remains the headache of special parents. Hence, if you decide to put your child in Mainstream schools, then do find a dedicated shadow teacher in place who meets your terms and conditions and is willing to play the role of your child’s shadow nicely.
Inclusive schools are designed to meet the needs of all students, including those with special needs. Inclusive schools aim to provide a supportive and nurturing learning environment that promotes the academic and social development of all students. Inclusive schools employ a variety of teaching strategies to accommodate the diverse learning styles and abilities of students.
Inclusive schools emphasize collaboration and teamwork among students, teachers, and parents. They promote a culture of respect, tolerance, and acceptance, which helps to build a sense of community among students. Inclusive schools may offer additional resources and support through special educators, shadow staff, enough resource rooms, and learnings materials, different methods such as assistive technology, specialized instruction, setting up individualized goals and following IEP, providing counseling services, to help students with special needs thrive.
Integrated schools are similar to inclusive schools in that they aim to provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students. However, integrated schools take this a step further by integrating students with special needs into mainstream classrooms. In integrated schools, students with special needs receive the same academic instruction as their peers but may receive additional support to help them access the curriculum fully.
Integrated schools aim to break down the barriers that exist between students with special needs and typically developing students. By promoting inclusion and collaboration, integrated schools aim to create a sense of community among students, which helps to build empathy, respect, and acceptance among all students.
So, mainstream schools, inclusive schools, and integrated schools differ in the ways they approach education and meet the needs of their students. Mainstream schools are designed to cater to typically developing students and focus primarily on academic achievement. Inclusive schools aim to provide a supportive and nurturing environment for all students, including those with special needs. Integrated schools take this a step further by integrating students with special needs into mainstream classrooms. By understanding the differences between these types of schools, parents and educators can make informed decisions about which type of school is best suited for their child’s needs
More on Inclusive Education
Inclusive education is a system that aims to provide equal opportunities for children with and without disabilities to learn together in the same classroom. It promotes a sense of belonging, tolerance, and understanding among students, while allowing children with special needs to receive the support they require. Inclusive schools are institutions that cater to the educational needs of children with special needs, in a manner that is sensitive, caring, and empathetic.
In Noida, there are several inclusive schools that are renowned for their academic excellence, as well as their focus on holistic development. Noida, being a rapidly developing city, has numerous schools, and choosing the right one for your child can be a daunting task here for the special parents.
Choosing a school for a special needs child is a challenging and overwhelming process for parents. It’s really important to keep in mind the unique needs of your child and what type of learning environment will best suit them.
Now lets find out what are the various Parameters to Consider while Selecting an Inclusive School ? Here are some important factors that you need to keep in mind while you are preparing your child and yourself to take that leap and putting them in a school. Please not that these factors will vary from child to child, parent to parent and their environment.
1. Consider the Age Factor and Independence Skill Level
When preparing for seeking an admission in a school for a special needs child, parents must consider their child’s age and independence skill level. For younger children, it’s essential to focus on gaining basic skills and milestones perfectly. The school should have a nurturing and supportive environment that can provide individualized attention to each child’s unique needs. As the child grows older, parents should look for a school that can help them develop independence and vocational skills so they can learn to take care of themselves and lead a more fulfilling life.
2. Parents Need to be Proactive
Putting a special needs child in school requires parents to be proactive and 100 percent involved. Teachers in school have to look after all the kids in the class, so it’s up to the parents to ensure that their child’s needs are being met. Parents should attend regular meetings and conversations with the school staff to stay updated on their child’s progress and any issues that may arise. They should also take frequent feedback and reports on their child’s performance in school to identify areas that need improvement.
3. Find the Right School with Experienced Teachers
The school should have experienced teachers who are well-trained in working with special needs children. They should be compassionate and patient, able to understand the unique needs of each child and provide individualized attention accordingly. The school should also have a strong support system in place, including specialized therapists, psychologists, and support staff who can provide additional support as and when needed.
4. Look for a School with an Inclusive Environment
Parents should look for a school that promotes an inclusive environment, where special needs children can learn and interact with other children. This helps in building social skills and emotional well-being. Inclusive schools can also help reduce the stigma associated with special needs children, leading to a more accepting and empathetic society. The school should have an inclusive culture that fosters a sense of belonging and acceptance among all students, regardless of their abilities.
5. Proper Inclusive Policy
The school’s inclusion policy should be transparent, being accessible to the parents as a soft or hard copy. It should focus on providing equal opportunities for all children, regardless of their abilities. It should encourage a positive attitude towards diversity and foster an environment where every student feels valued and respected.
The school should have facilities that cater to the needs of all children, including those with special needs. It should have wheelchair accessibility, accessible washrooms, and ramps. The classrooms should be spacious and well-lit, with enough natural light.The school should have a well-maintained resource room and classrooms, equipped with modern facilities that are accessible to children with special needs. This includes ramps, lifts, wide doors, accessible toilets, and classrooms that are spacious and well-lit. Visual cues and information on different places should also be given.
7. Special Education
The school should have a special education program that provides personalized support to children with disabilities. The program should be designed to cater to the specific needs of each child, and the teachers in Special Education department should have specialized training in working with children with special needs.
8. Teaching Staff
The teaching staff should be trained in inclusive education and should have experience working with children with special needs. They should be compassionate and patient, and they should encourage a positive learning environment for all students.
9. Co-curricular Activities
The school should have a wide range of co-curricular activities that cater to the interests of all children, including those with special needs. These activities should be inclusive, and the school should ensure that every child can participate in them.
The school’s curriculum should be designed to cater to the needs of children with special needs, with a focus on practical learning, sensory integration, and social skills development.
11. Teacher-student ratio
A low teacher-student ratio ensures that your child receives personalized attention, and that their learning needs are catered to in a manner that is sensitive and empathetic.
12. Staff qualifications in SEN department
The school should have a team of trained and experienced special educators, therapists, and support staff, who can provide individualized support to your child.
13. Distance of school from your home
This is a very crucial factor which needs to be kept in mind while choosing a school as our kids takes time in dressing up and daily routine work, they do have sleep issues and may not wake up early, so whether a distant school which starts at 7:30 or 8 am and for that you need to start at around 6:30 will be a good option for your child?
14. Ensure the School has Adequate Resources
Another critical factor to consider when choosing a school for your special needs child is the availability of necessary resources- like fidget toys, self-regulation materials and enough assisted learning materials. The school should have adequate resources to support the needs of special needs children. This includes assistive technology, special education programs, and therapies. Parents should ensure that the school has a well-equipped and accessible learning environment to promote the child’s learning and development.
Fidgety resources and self-regulation materials such as stress balls, fidget spinners, clay dough, slime and sensory toys, can help children with sensory processing issues regulate their emotions and behavior. Providing these resources in the classroom or in a seperate resource room can help children stay focused, calm, and engaged in learning activities. They can be used as a reinforcement from time to time. By working together with teachers and other professionals in the school, you can help ensure that your child receives the best possible resources during the school hours.
15. Provision of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
One crucial aspect to consider when choosing a school for your special needs child is the provision of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
An IEP is a written document that outlines the specific educational goals and objectives for a child with a disability. It is designed to help teachers, parents, and other professionals work together to create a customized education plan that meets the unique needs of the child. A well-crafted IEP sets clear goals and outlines the necessary support and resources required to help your child achieve them. Setting up goals is a key aspect of creating an environment that supports the education of special needs children. Goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable, with a clear timeline for achieving them. The process of setting and achieving goals helps children build self-confidence and develop important life skills such as problem-solving and decision-making.
16. Provision of visual schedules and structure:
Visual schedules and a structured environment are an essential tool for children with special needs. They provide a clear visual representation of the day’s activities, allowing the child to better understand the sequence of events and transition between activities more smoothly. Visual schedules can help reduce anxiety and improve overall behavior in the classroom. These tools and resources are essential for creating an environment that supports the unique needs of your child and helps them thrive academically and socially. So do check on this factor while initial interactions with the staff and teachers of the school where you’re seeking admission for your child.
So, choosing a school for a special needs child requires careful consideration and planning. Parents need to keep in mind the above factors, and match them to the unique needs of their child. They should also be proactive and involved in their child’s education, attend regular meetings with the school staff, take feedback and reports on their child’s progress, and ensure that the school has experienced teachers, an inclusive environment, and adequate resources.
Some of the best inclusive/integrated schools in Noida which take admissions of special needs kids include:
Genesis Global School
Kothari International school
The Millennium School sec-119
Step by Step
Lotus Valley School
Shiv Nadar school
Bal Bharti public school
Manav Rachna School
Some mainstream schools do take admissions of special needs kids if they find them perfect enough to bear the mainstream school environment pressure, they may ask the parents to provide a shadow teacher for kids support.
Example of such mainstream schools are
Global Indian International school
Delhi Public School
When selecting an inclusive school, parents of special needs children should take an active role in the decision-making process. They should visit the school, meet with the staff, and ask questions about the school’s policies and practices. They should also speak to other parents of special needs children who have experience with the school, to get a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
Planning of admission-
Now, one of the most important factors in the planning of the admission process to keep in mind is:
1. Timing – when should parents start planning for their child’s admission, and what should they keep in mind throughout the process?
Timing is key when it comes to special education admissions. In general, parents should start thinking about their child’s educational needs and researching potential schools as early as possible. The exact timing of admission forms and interactions can vary depending on the school or program, but many schools begin accepting applications in the month of October or November for the next academic year.
It’s important for parents to do their research and understand the timeline for admission at the schools they’re considering. This may involve reaching out to school administrators or front desk, visiting the school’s website to gather information. Many schools also hold open houses or information sessions for prospective families, which can be a great opportunity to learn more about the admissions process and ask any questions.
Once parents have identified potential schools, they’ll need to fill the admission forms, navigate the assessment and personal interaction rounds that are typically part of the admissions process. These rounds are designed to evaluate the child’s needs and determine whether the school is a good fit. It’s important for parents to approach these rounds with a positive attitude and be prepared to advocate for their child’s needs.
One key point to keep in mind during assessments and interactions is to be honest and upfront about the child’s abilities and challenges. Schools need accurate information in order to make an informed decision about whether they can meet the child’s needs. Parents may also want to bring any relevant documents or assessments to the meeting, such as medical records or educational evaluations. Provide all the detailed reports, and assessments previously done.
2. Collaborative effort between the parents and the school–
Another important consideration is to approach the admissions process as a collaborative effort between the parents and the school. Schools want to work with parents to create an educational plan that meets the child’s needs, and parents should be willing to listen to the school’s recommendations and work together to develop a plan that will help their child thrive.
The length of the admissions process can vary depending on the school and the child’s needs. Some schools may be able to make a decision relatively quickly, while others may require multiple rounds of assessments and interactions. It’s important for parents to be patient and understanding throughout the process, and to remember that finding the right educational setting for their child is a journey that may take some time.
Parents of special needs children should start planning for their child’s educational needs as early as possible, and be prepared to navigate the admissions process with a positive and collaborative mindset. By doing their research, being honest about their child’s needs, and approaching the process as a partnership with the school, parents can help ensure that their child finds a school that meets their unique needs and sets them up for success.
**Please note an important point that it’s easy to select and make choices for different schools when you’re opting an admission for your child in pre- nursery or nursery class. For these two initial preparatory classes in formative years of early education, all the schools take admissions whole-heartedly. However, as soon as child reach in kindergarten and further in grade 1 or grade 2 the admission for special needs kids becomes very difficult. Moreover, most of the inclusive schools they do not take admissions for the kids with special needs after nursery grade. So, make an informed decision by taking opinions, meeting school staff, visiting them and doing a perfect research.
So, concluding this blog, by mentioning that selecting a school for your child can be a challenging task, but with the right information and guidance, you can make an informed decision that will help your child thrive. By keeping in mind the parameters mentioned above and working closely with the school, you can ensure that your child receives the support and education they need to reach their full potential.
Hope you all find this blog useful and make an informed decision while choosing the school for your little one. Thank you !!
Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Dhairya Kumar Pal