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What Is Reverse Inclusion?

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    What Is Reverse Inclusion?

    Reverse inclusion offers benefits for every student. Although mainstreaming — placing a student with disabilities in a regular classroom to participate in ongoing activities with nondisabled students — provides unique experiences, reverse mainstreaming offers additional benefits for all students. Let’s discover what reverse inclusion is, the benefits it offers students, and how it differs from regular inclusion. 

    What Does Reverse Inclusion Mean?

    Reverse inclusion is the process of placing nondisabled students in a self-contained classroom with students with disabilities for a period of time. In some situations, putting special education inside the classroom is challenging. Reverse inclusion enables schools to provide unique student experiences while meeting each child’s needs. 

    In early grade levels, like kindergarten, students without disabilities might stay in the classroom for an extended period or the entire day. As they advance through education and persist through high school, they may spend time in a special education classroom for an allotted amount of time to spend time with students with disabilities.

    Students in a reverse inclusion classroom can complete a wide range of activities. Young children in a reverse inclusion classroom may take on activities such as:

    • Science magnet experiments: Students work together to understand magnets, with one student holding the magnet and the other student holding objects or another magnet. 
    • Spin art: One student squeezes the paint bottles while another operates the paint spinner. 
    • Storytime with puppets: One student reads or listens to a story while another creates and operates puppets to listen. 
    • Music: One student chooses music or controls the volume while everyone dances together. 

    Older children can benefit from these classrooms as well. Activities should reflect their age to keep all students interested and engaged. Some activities you could find in reverse inclusion classrooms for older students include:

    • Making smoothies: One student cuts the fruit and measures the ingredients while another operates the blender. 
    • Basketball: Students with and without physical disabilities can work together to pass the ball and take shots at the hoop. 
    • Board games: Students can play board games independently or as a team. As a team, one student can roll the dice or spin the wheel while another moves the game pieces, or they can work together to strategize. 

    List of the benefits of reverse inclusion programs

    How Does Reverse Inclusion Help Students?

    Reverse inclusion programs can create enriching experiences for students and enable more student collaboration and understanding. These classrooms offer a wide variety of benefits for students and provide positive environments for age-appropriate activities. These programs are beneficial for all students to create meaningful connections with their education and each other. 

    The Benefits of Reverse Inclusion Programs

    Reverse inclusion classrooms benefit all students. Students with disabilities and nondisabled students can come together to create unique and enriching academic experiences that they would otherwise miss. Additional benefits of these programs include:

    • Making lasting friendships: Reverse inclusion programs enable students with disabilities to make lasting friendships with peers. In schools or classrooms where students with disabilities cannot often participate, forming these connections can be challenging. 
    • Bettering communication: Students with disabilities may use their peers as a model for communication. As students interact with one another, they can better understand their experiences and strengthen the way they communicate inside and outside of the classroom. 
    • Strengthening inclusion: When students without disabilities frequently interact with students with disabilities, they can strengthen their commitment to inclusion. Students with disabilities may be more likely to seek other opportunities and join inclusion settings as a result of their interaction in a reverse inclusion program. 
    • Fostering a sense of belonging: As students with disabilities create genuine, lasting bonds with friends, they can foster a sense of belonging within themselves. They’ll understand that they play an essential role inside and outside of the classroom and develop a more profound love for learning and themselves. 
    • Learning from differences: Nondisabled students also benefit from these programs by strengthening their social skills and understanding how to interact with others who are different from them. Learning from differences can help combat stereotypes, encourage students to embrace diversity, and respect those who face different challenges than those they experience. 

    Reverse Inclusion Challenges

    These programs present many learning and growing opportunities for every student, but there are some obstacles that prohibit institutions from making the switch. Here are some of the most common barriers to reverse inclusion: 

    • Time and scheduling: Younger students typically have less control over their schedules than older students. School administrators and instructors can craft dedicated time for primary grades for these programs. However, as students begin taking different classes and preparing their schedules, finding meaningful and nondisruptive time for these interactions can become challenging. 
    • Lack of professionals: Some schools may not have the resources to hire enough aides or instructors to facilitate these classrooms. Without the proper resources to deliver these meaningful experiences, students can miss valuable opportunities. 
    • Planning activities: After finding enough professionals to oversee these classrooms, the educators must choose age-appropriate activities that will satisfy students with and without disabilities. It may be challenging to find activities that appeal to the strengths of students with disabilities and nondisabled students. 

    Inclusion vs. Reverse Inclusion

    Students with disabilities and nondisabled students can benefit from interacting in a structured and supervised setting where either inclusion or reverse inclusion exists. These classrooms foster belonging, friendships, communication, and a sense of embracing diversity. Although both mainstreaming and reverse mainstreaming present benefits, reverse inclusion may be more beneficial for students. 

    Students with medical needs, violent behavior tendencies, or communication difficulties may face more obstacles in a traditional classroom, where they cannot easily have their needs met. In these cases, bringing nondisabled students into the special education classroom can be much more accommodating. Additionally, reverse inclusion is an excellent option for schools without the resources to provide an aide for every student with disabilities in the classroom. 

    Learn More About CCA's Special Education Programs

    Learn More About CCA’s Special Education Programs

    Commonwealth Charter Academy understands that every child has unique needs, interests, abilities, and learning methods. With our personalized education programs, each of our learners can access the tools and resources they need to succeed in a way that’s meaningful to them. 

    At CCA, teachers and families collaborate to craft an academic experience that will benefit each student and foster a love of learning. When you enroll your child at CCA, you’re delivering more than a virtual education — you’re providing a dynamic, enhanced, and unique experience to your child.

    CCA offers general education courses and an enriching special education program. Our program enables students and families to customize intervention strategies that empower them to become fully integrated into our virtual school from the safety and comfort of their homes. Request more information about our special education program to find out how we can help your child succeed.


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    December 14th, 2023


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