Yep, that’s right. We don’t talk about inclusivity in our house.
Instead, we practice it.
Inclusion can be such a buzz word in today’s society. We have such high expectations of inclusion to happen in our classrooms, and many criticize how and when it takes place. However, underneath all of this, we seem to have forgotten to practice inclusion at home.
Maybe you have thought “of course we are inclusive”. But are you? What does an inclusive home look like?
In our home all are welcome. Yep, that means the kids who are aggressive, the child who has meltdowns, the impulsive friend who can use bad language, the child with a diagnosis, and the child without one. In our house, we invite everyone to play. Oh, and birthday parties of kids we don’t know well. We go to those too. In our house, we make connections with as many kids as we can for playdates and parties. Our kids aren’t perfect and we don’t believe in only inviting kids over that are just like us.
Sure, we can talk all about how we need to be kind to people that are different from us, but our children learn by watching us model that behavior. What better way to show them what it looks like that to participate in inclusion ourselves? So often schools offer “inclusive” classrooms, but then separate children to one area. Whether necessary or not, we need to show our children not how to stand next to people that are different, but how to engage with others who are not exactly like them.
In this day and age so many of our children are communicating online, or through text messages, and they aren’t having face to face interactions. When we practice inclusivity, we provide opportunities for children to share, engage, and discuss differences. It also provides many opportunities to learn from one another. Inviting a child over who has physical, learning, or behavioral differences provides a time and place for children to focus on similarities as well. Children can see how maybe they have different strengths in the classroom, but they have similarities outside of it.
Yep, the parents of the “good kids” and especially parents of the “spirited” ones all need a break. When we invite children over who have concerned parents, we reassure them. Look, we can handle meltdowns, anger, frustration, sensory overload, or whatever else they throw at us. We have a plan. Our house policy has allowed some parents to get the first break from their kids ever. Also, their kids usually do so well by getting to try something new and we get another opportunity to show our children what inclusivity looks like.
Many children (with or without a diagnosis) can be overwhelmed with large groups of kids-even if they know them well. So, we try to keep the groups smaller to decrease the possibility of overwhelming for the kids. By only inviting a few kids over at a time, we provide more opportunities for interaction as well.
We make sure to have games and activities planned out (with options) so that the kids don’t say the dreaded “I’m bored” or that they don’t become overwhelmed with making a decision.
We make certain to have snacks out and available so that all the kids can manage their most basic needs. Some kids are nervous to ask for snacks, so we make sure to leave them out in an open place where the kids can eat as they need. We make sure to honor food allergies or sensitivities as well.
We invite all kids over, so sometimes some of them get too overwhelmed and need a quiet space. Before any of the play activities get going, we show them where they can go if they need some quiet time. Sometimes just letting them know that they have a place to go can really help them to feel supported and can help them better manage their emotions if needed.
So, we want to know, do you have an inclusive house? What kinds of things do you do to help other children feel comfortable in your home? What are your tips and tricks for a great playdate?
Learn more at movementmatters.com