Inclusive schools should be places where children not only achieve…but enjoy. The playground or inside play areas are oftentimes the center of a young child’s social world. It is the place where friendships start, social networks form, and the rigors of the classroom seem far away. Children with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds may find it challenging to fit in during playtime. Here are some ideas to help facilitate social interaction and acceptance on the playground.
- Facilitate fun structured games and activities on the playground. An adult supervisor can ensure that all children understand the rules and are able to participate.
- Introduce games and activities that include repetitive actions and are not too complex. These kinds of activities can be easier for children to learn and master; helping them to feel accepted and successful during playtime.
- Make sure children come to the playground with a functional communication system. A portable augmentative communication device, picture communication book, or object system is imperative to allow social dialogue to happen on the playground.
- Make small or grand changes to the physical layout of the playground to make it more accessible to children with disabilities. On a grand scale there are several companies who construct accessible play areas. For those on a tighter budget, there are store bought items such as water and sand tables or handmade items, such as an object exploration area, that can be easily accessed by children with physical disabilities.
- Discuss the topics of sharing and friendship before heading out to the play area. Encourage students to meet new friends and to include others in their activity.
- Have an adult supervisor in each area of the playground instead of adults congregating in one area. This facilitates a safe play environment and allows adults to facilitate social interactions among children without hovering over an individual student.
Have fun with your students. There is no better way to teach than by example!