Written by: Mark Wallace, Executive Director of Organizational Culture & International Partners
It’s easy to become overwhelmed in a classroom with 25 other pre-schoolers, especially when it’s been over two years since the school has been open and each student is buzzing with nervousness and excitement. At the Horizons Academy in Lake AmatitlÃ¡n, Guatemala, Alan and Javier sit in a group together with a few other students. Their task at hand: colouring.
Alan and Javier are both neurodivergent, and colouring can be challenging. Alan scribbles his way through his activity book, rushing so he can get to game time afterwards. Javier looks at his blank activity book, only colouring if a teacher or classroom helper gives him specific instructions.
In an inclusive classroom, our teachers and helpers are specially trained to support students with their individual needs. Alan is asked gently to add more to his activity book. His teacher notices Alan’s attention straying, and he reengages him, asking questions like, “what colour are my eyes? What colour are my glasses?” With the extra encouragement to refocus, Alan successfully completes his task.
Javier is also encouraged. His teacher asks Javier to colour in specific objects on the page, and he holds up a few coloured pencils for him to choose from. After a while, he can complete the task on his own.
In inclusive classrooms, children with disabilities learn together with their peers while receiving the support they need to succeed.