Teachers, professionals and parents expressed their support for the changes needed in the supporting environment for children with special educational needs at kindergartens.
During the International Conference held by Karin Dom Foundation on September 25th 2015, were presented good practices all over Bulgaria. We saw the positive results of the cooperation between social service providers and institutions; we learned about a number of easy to apply approaches for improvement of the environment at kindergartens and how to inspire more effective communication between parents and teachers.
There is a need for policy changes on kindergarten, regional and state level.
Out of 214 conference participants, 108 have shared their opinion on the changes recommended by Karin Dom:
1. The recommendation for employment of assistant-teachers at kindergartens where there is a larger number of children with special educational needs (SEN), was completely supported. Comments focus mainly on the number of assistant-teachers which must correspond directly to the specific needs of the child; also, this service should be financed by the state. The idea of developing an adapted teaching handbooks and programs for the specific groups of children with special educational needs, was approved.
2. Among popular subjects discussed at the conference was the insufficient number of social assistants, their qualification and role at the kindergarten.
3. The idea of carrying out awareness campaigns on tolerance was supported by 97% of the conference participants. Among the suitable subjects are the right to education for all children, the abilities of children with SEN and their accomplishments. Similar campaigns, directed towards parents and teachers, are also necessary for the early identification of development delays in children and early intervention (for children between 0 and 3 years of age).
We are happy to announce that Unicef Bulgaria is planning such campaign.
4. The propsals, based on Karin Dom’s experience, for a change in the interaction between parents and teachers and the coordination between social service providers and institutions, were supported by all:
5. One of the good practices, taken from the Varna Municipality’s, is the opportunity for children with specia food and nutrient needs to use children’s establishments and to be provided with suitable food (for example diet, gluten free). The suggestion for this practice to be applied in other municipalities was 100% supported by all.
6. Last but not least, the recommendation to the Resource Centers to also have a professional physiotherapist/ergotherapist to support children with motor difficulties and their teachers/social assistants/resource teachers at the kindergarten. The participants voted “yes” for this recommendation.
It is important to us that the Regional Inspectorate of Education – Varna and the Resource Center – Varna also acknowledged the need of this as essential. At the initiative of RIE – Varna and with Karin Dom’s assistance there will be trainings held at the kindergartens on interaction, positioning and motor activities for children with motor difficulties.
Handbook for teachers at kindergartens
One of the main conclusions of the conference is that it is of great importance for the children with special needs to be able to be part of the educational process and the environment at kindergartens. It is necessary for the pedagogical and other staff to receive training on basic techniques for inclusion of the children with special needs; also, children should have access to resource support.
A step in this direction is the distribution of the handbook, developed by Karin Dom, on working with children with special needs at kindergartens. Another useful document is the collection of good practices from Bulgaria and abroad.
The handbook and the collection of good practices are being distributed for free!
*Both available only in Bulgarian
The participants stressed that the work of both specialists and parents must be guided by the understanding that the children have their own strengths that must be encouraged and developed. As one of the lecturers, Tsvetalina Yosifova said:
„It’s best for the children to be treated not as children with special needs but as children with special abilities!”
In conclusion, we quote the words of our guest-lecturer Monica Ingemarson from Norway, which unite the ideas of Karin Dom for cooperation and sharing experience… “It is important to have a dialogue between all interested parties, everyone has the right to make a suggestion and to think in the direction of how the child can catch up on its deficiency.”