Proceedings of The 2nd International Conference on New Approaches in Education
Preschool Teachers’ Experiences in Working with Children in an Inclusive Educational Facility
Jasna Kudek Mirošević , Daria Tot and Renata Šamo
Inclusion is a process that signifies an equal approach to quality education for all children and supports their development and learning. Recognizing the role of a leader, mediator and role-model, among others, is particularly relevant for the contemporary preschool teacher. The preschool teacher does represent a role-model for children’s behavior and enables them – through everyday experiences – to learn how to respect and appreciate differences, as well as to develop their participation skills. It is important to create an environment in which every child will grow and develop, feel as an equal society member, with equal rights and values, in which differences are a source of fortune and learning opportunities. In a child upbringing, cooperation with parents and experts is important. Continuous professional development and lifelong learning is a preschool teacher’s prerequisite for realizing an inclusion philosophy in education. Having in mind the 21st century preschool teacher, this paper is aimed at indicating the need for strengthening his/her professional competences in inclusive work with preschool children. The aim of this research is to determine how much preschool teachers individualize processes in activities planned for the children with disabilities, and whether they consider themselves competent to conduct such activities to satisfy the principles of an inclusive environment, all in accordance with legislation in the Croatian education system. The sample includes preschool teachers (N=132) in educational facilities across the Republic of Croatia. The results should reveal the level of individualized educational practice, with a special emphasis on dilemmas and challenges arising from them (research results).
Keywords: children with disabilities, cooperation, diversity, preschool teachers’ professional development, individualized approach.