What is Special Class Inclusion Setting Preschool (SCIS)


Linda Stummer has a goal.

She wants to establish a better understanding surrounding Special Class Inclusion Setting Preschool (SCIS).
As the Director of Classroom Excellence at Syracuse Daycare Little Lukes, Linda has more than two decades of instructor knowledge. With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech and Hearing Science at SUNY Geneseo and a Master of Science Degree in Special Education at Penn State University, Linda speaks with a confidence that only comes from firsthand experience.  
“I have been teaching in inclusive settings since 1989,” said Linda. “While it really dates me, the benefit of that is I have watched children progress through inclusive classrooms through high school and graduation. I have watched children with disabilities graduate with regents diplomas and go to college. Those opportunities wouldn’t have been available if they were educated in self-contained settings where the bar was lower. I have also watched students without disabilities choose career paths because of their first account experiences of being part of inclusive settings. I have been able to watch young adults come back and reflect on their experiences and how that has molded their thinking as adults.”
Linda sheds light upon SCIS and its many benefits for preschool students with developmental delays as well as those without.


Q: What is the mission of inclusion preschool?
LS: Inclusion is really a philosophy that all children have equal access to programming and that lessons are accessible to a range of learners so that everybody has the ability to participate. All students or all children have real equal status. Everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are celebrated and appreciated.
 
Q: What changes occur when inclusion is implemented in the classroom?
LS: It all begins with planning with two teachers who have strengths in different areas, the lead teacher having strengths with general education and the special education teacher having strengths with a variety of disabilities in terms on knowledge background. “What are all the different ways we can present information?”  so that a variety of learners can comprehend the lesson in a variety of ways. What are all the ways children can show us what they know?  Let’s get away from the one-way approach. We need different ways children can express and demonstrate their knowledge. Let’s take a look at the number of different types of environments children take information in.  Some children do the best working individually, some working together with a partner, some by watching a whole group. It’s really planning on the different ways we can present information, the different ways children can express and demonstrate their knowledge and then setting up the environment to best meet all learners.
 
Q: Why is it important for parents to get a development assessment if they sense their child may require extra help?
LS: Because these early years are the critical years for learning. The brains of our little ones are most ready to take information in and change, learn and grow. We can’t get these early years back. We have to capitalize on them while we have them. The learning outcomes are absolutely higher and more cost-effective.
 
Q: How do teachers encourage children without disabilities to interact with children who do have disabilities to create authentic friendships?
LS: All children deserve to be looked at through a strength-based model verse a deficit model. We look at disabilities as differences, not deficits. If we as educators are celebrating the differences that all children have, whether they are students with or without disabilities, then we do not have to set up or do a lot of extra in pairing kids together with and without disabilities. We appreciate differences that each child brings.
 
Q: What are some of the signs parents should be looking for in terms of developmental delays that warrant a development assessment?
LS: There is a wide range, and parents need to collaborate and interface with the pediatrician but especially monitor speech and language in terms of how children are following directions and expressing wants and needs.
 
Q: What are the benefits of an in-house team of speech, occupational and physical therapists that can go into a classroom or pull the child out to do therapy in a therapy gym or speech room?
LS: Benefits are huge. It leads to a greater generalization of skills. Related service providers are able to, on the spot, model and consult with educators so that new skills can be practiced across a variety of settings rather than in isolation.
 
Q: What are some of the proven long-term benefits of inclusion preschool for children with disabilities and children without disabilities?
LS: The long-term benefit is developing the philosophies in our little ones at a very early age in terms of how we perceive each other. We’re teaching children at an early age to celebrate differences rather than identify deficits. If children identify that at the preschool level, they are entering school age programs with a whole different lens.
 
Little Lukes Preschool, a Syracuse daycare provider, has five locations. The early education program specializes in comprehensive infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten development. Additional services include speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy for babies, toddlers and preschool children.


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