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What is Educational Inclusion? Learn the Importance and Benefits of Inclusion in Education

“That's not FAIR” the little girl cries, her eyes welling up with tears and voice trembling as she watches her brother play a game of soccer with friends.

“He said I could play, too!”

“You’re right, sweetie,” says their mother. “I did ask him to include you in their game.”

She calls the boy over to have a word with him to remind him of this pact. The little girl smiles as her brother waves her over to join the fun.

Now, kids are big on fairness. They notice when games, toys, and snacks are administered unequally. And you’d better believe they’ll speak up about it to correct the perceived injustice.

But what about when it comes to fairness in education?

Thankfully, the students of today don’t need to advocate for fairness and inclusion in education—because educational inclusion is provided for under the law.

But, there was a not-too-distant time when this wasn’t the case. A time when children with differences and disabilities were separated from their same-aged peers. A time where differences were viewed through a lens of stigma and deviance.

Modern parents can celebrate the fact that we now see things differently, and have adjusted the educational system accordingly—to accommodate ALL students and to ensure everyone has access to a robust, fair educational experience in the least restrictive environment.

Because learning and participating in school is a right to be enjoyed by all students.

But what does educational inclusion really mean? What does it do, how does it work, and why is it important?

This article will explore the facts of inclusion in the school setting, so you can gain a full awareness of this vital concept in modern education.

What does inclusion mean in education?

In a nutshell, inclusive education means that all children are given free and fair access to education in a regular classroom setting with their peers.

Inclusive education ensures that children with developmental disabilities and learning challenges receive high-quality instruction and socialization in a regular school and classroom setting as much as possible.

In order to ensure access for all students, inclusive education also encompasses and provides for any interventions, supports, and accommodations to promote inclusion in a regular classroom setting.

For students who meet the criteria for an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, these supports are guaranteed by law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). And, they’re provided at no cost to families.

The inclusive education movement helped create legislation supporting all students learning and participating in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for their education.

Students with disabilities and educational challenges are included in the general education setting as much as possible, and are given the supports and modifications needed to promote their ability to engage and participate fully in the regular classroom setting.

Whereas, at one time, these children would have received separate educational services in a different classroom or even school—nowadays we recognize and uphold the value of all children learning together. And, we understand that separating children based on their abilities wasn’t the best way to approach educating students with learning differences and disabilities.

Inclusive education promotes awareness, acceptance, and diversity. It fosters a learning environment that welcomes and supports different viewpoints, learning styles, and approaches. And, it’s been shown to be beneficial to all students, not only those who directly receive services and supports.

Today, children with all types of learning differences and disabilities can learn alongside their peers, without stigma, in an inclusive classroom environment.

Inclusive education supports students with a range of issues, including—

Inclusive education ensures students with learning and thinking differences, neurodiversity, and those who qualify for special educational services have access to the same educational opportunities and environments as their typically-developing peers.

It also promotes the free and fair interaction of all students in schools—reducing “otherness” and stigma around disability and difference.

Interested in learning more about some key subjects around the topic of educational inclusion? We’ve got you covered!

Now that you’re aware of what educational inclusion is, let’s take a look at why it’s so important—for not only the students who directly benefit from it, but for all students.

Why is educational inclusion important?

On the surface, it may seem obvious why all children should have access to the educational experience to which they’re entitled.

But the benefits of inclusive education go far beyond what you might recognize at first glance—and they’re well worth exploring.

Because inclusive education is all about promoting diversity in learning environments, while simultaneously reducing discrimination and stigmatization of traditionally marginalized groups.

And the benefits of inclusive education are real—for all.

Inclusive general education classrooms are designed to monitor and meet the needs of all students. In an inclusive classroom setting, special education and general education teachers work together in the classroom setting and collaborate closely to support students.

Studies have shown that students with disabilities benefit greatly from inclusion in a general education classroom with supports. Specifically, students with disabilities reported experiencing enhanced self concepts, higher motivation, and positive views toward their teachers and school.

Those are pretty amazing benefits!

But that’s not all the research on inclusive education has found…

Because the same research study noted that students without disabilities also benefited from the inclusive education model, reporting many of the same positive outcomes as their peers.

Students without disabilities had enhanced attitudes towards their educational abilities and achievements, and they also showed an increased tolerance for and sensitivity toward students with disabilities.

So, it’s clear that inclusive education offers impressive benefits to all students.

Some highlights of inclusive education classroom benefits include—

  • Promoting togetherness, minimizing differencesthe inclusive education model is all about reducing otherness and stigma, while promoting awareness and acceptance of all types of learners. All students are treated as equal members of the classroom community.

Whereas, in the past, students with disabilities might be removed from the general classroom for specialized instruction, inclusive classrooms often invite therapists and educational service providers into the classroom, where their instruction can benefit all students, in addition to those they’re directly targeting.

  • Uplifting and empowering all students—inclusive classrooms are educational environments where all students feel supported intellectually, academically, and socially. Thoughtfulness and respect are taught, along with the importance of students learning in their own way at their own pace. Collaboration is encouraged, and high standards are set to encourage students to rise to their fullest potential. IEPs are a component of this for students who qualify.

  • Providing differentiated instruction—in contrast to one-size-fits-all instruction, inclusive classrooms tailor instruction to each individual student. Because inclusion is built upon the understanding that all students learn differently, and we should seek to meet them where they are and play to their strengths to support their academic growth.

For example, some students learn best when math concepts are presented using visual aids and tactile manipulatives they can see and touch. Inclusive education takes into account the many different ways students learn. Inclusive classrooms also often use small group formats, to provide targeted instruction in the ways students learn best.

Learning more about the tenets of educational inclusion, it’s easy to see why this framework for instruction offers benefits to all students.

Now, let’s examine how inclusion works in real schools, so you can see it in action.

How does educational inclusion work?

As we mentioned, educational inclusion hinges on differential instruction—which means tailoring the instruction to each individual student, so their unique learning style and educational needs can be met in the best way possible.

For many inclusive classrooms, this model is best served by grouping students in small groups, based on their shared learning styles and needs.

This way, an educator can provide instruction to one group using manipulatives and visual aids, while another group may benefit from information provided orally, or in both verbal and written form.

The key point here is that inclusive classrooms tailor the teaching to the students, instead of expecting students to conform to the teaching and all learn the same way.

At The Loop, we’re dedicated to furthering the inclusive education mission by creating customized therapy plans and learning support services, designed to meet the unique needs of each individual student we’re honored to serve.

We love partnering and collaborating with educators—both inside and outside of the classroom setting—to ensure all our students have access to the full education they deserve.

We tailor our therapy, learning supports, and assessments to each student we see—because we believe quality education is never one-size-fits-all.

That’s why we partner exclusively with like-minded Chicago private schools, who share our commitment to offering top-notch, inclusive educational experiences to all their students.

In some cases, we’ll work with a student outside of the classroom in a one-on-one or group structure. In many cases, we deliver therapy and learning support services right in the classroom during the regular school day.

We seek to meet the needs of each student we serve, by working with them across educational environments and adapting our approach and methods to support their optimal learning style.

And, if there are any bumps in the road, we’ll help you smooth them out by adding our professionals to your child’s team with our educational consultancy and advocacy services.

Because it’s not about us—it’s about them. And we’ll stand firmly in your concern to ensure they get the services and support they need to thrive.

Interested in learning more about our process? Check out our About page for great info on who we are and how we work.

Wondering how you can get your school in the loop? Send them to our FAQ page for all the info to get started with The Loop.

When your school partners with The Loop, you’ll gain instant access to our wealth of top-quality therapy and learning support services. On the menu at The Loop, you’ll find speech, language, behavioral, and occupational therapy services, plus learning remediation, executive function coaching, and educational consultancy and advocacy services.

Follow along with us on social media @theLoopSLL, visit our website regularly for our latest free resources and informative blog posts, or shoot us an email with your questions at

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