‘One of the kids’: Parent perceptions of the developmental advantages arising from inclusion in mainstream early childhood education services

Roger Blackmore
South Western Sydney Local Health District  

Elizabeth Aylward
KU Children’s Services

Rebekah Grace
Macquarie University

This research explored the perspectives of parents who have enrolled their child with a developmental disability in a mainstream early childhood education service. It asked questions about their experience of engagement with the service, and the extent to which they felt participation in this service was beneficial for their child. Fifteen families whose children had been attending a mainstream service for at least six months were recruited to the study and participated in qualitative interviews. There were four key findings from this study: parents are primarily motivated to enrol their children in mainstream early childhood services because they seek social interactions for their children with typically developing peers; despite increasing support at the policy level for inclusive early childhood education, families encountered many challenges in securing a place for their child at a centre that was willing and able to meet their child’s needs; parents felt that their child’s development was supported by attendance at a mainstream centre, particularly in relation to communication and behaviour; and parents believed that positive developmental change in their child was the direct result of service quality and imitation through peer interaction.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 2 June 2016

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