Inclusive education is founded on the understanding that children from different families are important and should get equal access to opportunities. Early Childhood Australia defines inclusion as the ability of every child to access and participate fully in early childhood education and care programs, achieving positive results (Turner & Morgan, 2019)Moffat et al. (2016) argued that it is the duty of early childhood teachers to ensure that apart from teaching, children’s rights are protected and the individual needs of every child are achieved. Therefore, when appraising their practice, teachers should ensure that the settings of early childhood education (ECE) meet the needs of each child and of their families.

Inclusive early childhood policies encourage the understanding that every child and their families have right to quality education from any preferred setting irrespective of their culture, gender, ability, or disability. The physical structure as well as policies and philosophies of a learning institution affect inclusion when working with carers or families and communities. This paper reviews the different approaches and strategies for inclusion in early education contexts. It also presents a comparison of contemporary inclusion practices with historical approaches.

Review of Inclusive Strategies based on EYLF and NQF Guidelines

First, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Standards (NQS) recognize that parents play a vital role in a child’s development. Kambouri et al. (2021) agreed that parents are the first educators in the lives of their children, and their continued support during early childhood education is very important in the contemporary inclusive structure.

As entry into the educational context widens the relationships and encounters of children, parents’ presence should be encouraged to help children grasp new concepts. Effective parent-teacher partnerships make this possible. In building the partnerships, Moffat et al. (2016) stated that inclusive settings are where teachers promote social justice and equity with the goal to give families and children a sense of belonging.

A teacher has to know the common beliefs, assumptions, practices, and attitudes of the children and their families. Underwood (2014) explained that only high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) empowers children to satisfactorily participate in their communities. The author elaborated that such a form of education promotes concern for every child’s unique needs, welcomes all children and their families, and encourages continuous assessment of programs to achieve full participation.

EY LF and NQS guidelines also reveal the need to empower parents and carers. Kambouri et al. (2021) discussed the first issue that affect the effectiveness of parent-teacher partnerships is that interpretation of the partnerships appears restrictive and unable to accommodate the diverse practices that describe parental involvement. The authors argued that on top of the parental involvement activities identified by Epstein’s model, none setting-based social contexts like inviting parents to have a meal as they discuss the performance of their children. Telling parents that they are doing great encourages them to increase their commitment towards their children’s development and outcomes.

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The second problem with these partnerships is the power imbalance, which makes parents or carers feel that their knowledge about their children is neglected or devalued. In this regard, Underwood (2014) discussed that ECEC programs should include resource consultants that work with educators to ensure that their inclusion efforts are sound. Partnerships with early intervention programs and other agencies may as well be helpful in the absence of resource consultants.

The overallto role of these partners is to enable problem solutions among stakeholders that make the child care system, which includes families or carers and the communities. Underwood (2014) also stated that programs that encourage inclusion should cater for all children's and families’ needs.

Comparing the Recommended Practices (above) with Historical Approaches

One similar feature between the recommended teaching and learning practices above and historical methods is that they focus on producing positive outcomes for children in early childhood education settings. Again, the relationship between the teacher and children is valued in both sets of approaches.

However, the approaches differ in many ways. First, parental involvement is either missing or very low in historical methods, and this affects performance. In a Montessori-based curriculum, for instance, the lack of partnership with educators makes parents and carers unable to tell if the support they offer is too little or excessive. Additionally, the High Scope approach only shares children’s performance during parent conferences.

Only Reggio Emilia strategy shows concern over parental involvement and is based on policies similar to those of contemporary strategies. Again, policies in some of the historical approaches do not meet the needs of all children. For instance, the Montessori-based method is not effective for children that cannot learn independently. According to Turner and Morgan (2019), the historical inclusive education in the early years of learning mainly concentrated on supporting children with special needs like autism and physical impairments.

They also catered for the needs of children considered to be ‘at risk’ and others termed as ‘disadvantaged’ with reference to geographic and socio-economic isolation. On the other hand, the inclusion according to EY LF and NQS considers cultural, social, and political factors as well as economic backgrounds of the stakeholders and disadvantages due to English as a second language in addition to the traditionally recognized factors.


In early childhood education, inclusion is attained if the policies and philosophies of a learning center make children and their parents or carers to feel a sense of belonging. Parental involvement in early childhood education is important because children of that age view parents are their primary educators. They are, thus, able to grasp concepts taught in school faster if parents explain to them. However, issues such as restrictive definitions of parental involvement and imbalance of power often hinder parents from identifying and fulfilling their actual role in the development of children.

Unlike most of the historical approaches, contemporary strategies in early childhood education recognize the need for parental involvement. The effective relationship between educators and children is important, but parents and carers also have their unique roles in the teaching and learning process. The problems that affect parent-practitioner partnerships should, thus, be identified and effectively solved to ensure that carers or parents collaborate fully with teachers to improve children’s outcomes.

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