The Department of Early and Special Education and the Boise State Children’s Center engage in a collaborative partnership focused on creating enriching, nurturing, and inclusive learning environments that incorporate evidence-based practices, opportunities for continued learning and professional development for Children’s Center staff as well as Boise State University students, and research innovative approaches within early childhood education.
During Spring 2018, the Early Childhood Collaborative dedicated one classroom at the Children’s Center for the practice and implementation of inclusive education with a focus on
providing all young learners with opportunities to explore their curiosities, to nurture their relationships with teachers and peers, and to construct meaning through play. Within the Early Childhood Collaborative, inclusive education means a sense of belonging for all children and families: “All means all”. The inclusive classroom offers children with and without disabilities opportunities for access and participation with supports embedded where they are needed (NAEYC/CEC, 2009).
The inclusive classroom implements a co-teaching model where two mentor teachers, one with a background in general education and one with a background in special education, collaborate to create a play-based curriculum that combines universal design elements and individualized approaches for young learners. In addition, Boise State University students helped to design the physical layout of the classroom, plan curriculum, and assist during class time alongside these teachers as well as Center administration and Early and Special Education (ESP) faculty.
Heading into the 2018-2019 academic year, the Early Childhood Collaborative will continue its’ work in inclusive early childhood education. In addition, the collaborative will focus on training and implementation of best practices in early childhood science, technology engineering and math (STEM). This work in early childhood STEM will be approached through a developmentally appropriate, play and inquiry-based model that emphasizes the development of the whole child.