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Access and Inclusion: Ensuring Engagement in EC Environments

by Johnna Darragh
July/August 2008
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/access-and-inclusion-ensuring-engagement-in-ec-environments/5018220/

Extensive research has concluded that children benefit from early childhood education, and that these benefits can last a lifetime. Quality early childhood programs and services are bi-directional: The program impacts the child, and the child is impacted by the program. For children to benefit from all that programs have to offer, it is essential that they are engaged within the early childhood environment. At a fundamental level, engagement means:

• embracing children’s multiple interests

• providing appropriate challenges, and

• motivating children to learn.


A foundational component of engagement is access. It probably goes without saying that children cannot benefit from high-quality early childhood environments if they cannot access all the environment has to offer. Access is central to all aspects of the early childhood environment, including teaching practices and curriculum. The physical and social environment, however, provide the backdrop for access in all other areas. If children cannot physically navigate the environment and if their social needs are not met, other curricular goals will be lacking.

The physical and social needs that children bring to early childhood education are varied and diverse, which the following vignettes demonstrate.

At the moment the door opens, Grace begins to take in the sights and sounds of her infant ...

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