Proceedings of The International Academic Conference on Education, Teaching and Learning
Attitudes of Early Childhood and Preschool Education Students and Teachers towards Inclusion of Children with Down syndrome
Esmeralda Sunko and Iskra Tomić Kaselj
Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome included in regular educational institutions have the opportunity to become active members of the community and become independent. Teachers are the first experts in early childhood and preschool education after children have left their family home. Their views on inclusion depend on the value system, their immediate experience as well as their professional competences. Yet, for early and preschool education students, the issue of attitude depends largely on their formal education. This study sought to see the difference in attitudes between early childhood and preschool education teachers and students towards the inclusion of children with Down syndrome in kindergartens. The research included teachers from three kindergartens in the City of Split, as well as early childhood and preschool education students at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split. The results are presented through thematic statements grouped by content as follows: personal attitude towards inclusion of children with Down syndrome; inclusion success; knowledge and training; kindergarten and inclusion; and attitudes towards parents of children with Down syndrome. The results showed that there was no statistically significant difference between teachers and students in terms of their attitudes towards inclusion. The results of teachers towards the partial integration of children with Down syndrome are significant. Based on the conducted research, it can be concluded there is a need for additional education in this field due to the lack of content, in formal and non-formal education of teachers, addressing the issue of the inclusion of children with Down syndrome and children with disabilities in general.
Keywords: Down syndrome, early childhood and preschool education teacher, experience, inclusion, lifelong education.