Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Learning Disabilities


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Shuff, Margaret M.


Early childhood teachers--Attitudes; Mainstreaming in education


Disability and Equity in Education


All children have special abilities and special needs that make them unique individuals. Most teachers work with children who have a wide range of abilities and learning styles. Early childhood teachers are no exception. They may have children enrolled in their classrooms who have subtle learning disabilities, significant physical, mental or emotional problems, high intelligence, or conditions which limit speech and motor development. Teachers may not have been taught that the continuum of development is similar for all children, but that timetables may vary. This thesis examines staff attitudes toward the placement of young children with special needs into regular daycare or preschool classes – a philosophy called inclusion.

Most early childhood professionals have preservice training in either regular or special education. In the real world, people's abilities are not so well defined; why then should teacher training be separated into two distinct categories? Do teachers with regular education backgrounds feel prepared to work with children who are developing atypically in some areas? What are teachers prepared to teach? What are they not prepared to teach? How do they manage their classrooms? Do they know what to do and how to do it?

To find answers to these and other questions, this researcher reviewed current literature relevant to inclusion, particularly for inclusion at the preschool level. The literature abounds with research which shows that regular education teachers tend to have a sparse background in teaching techniques and strategies for particular special needs. They may lack assessment skills and be unaware of signals which can point to problems. They may not have been taught that the continuum of development is similar for all children, but that individual timetables may vary.

This study surveyed staff attitudes toward inclusion m three different areas. These areas include attitudes toward inclusion, preservice and inservice training, and collaboration. Thirty-nine female teachers, employed at one of five selected early childhood centers, participated in the survey. They answered a five point Likert scale questionnaire with 27 questions pertaining to each of the three areas noted. Responses were organized and tallied to yield mean scores and standard deviations for each cluster of questions. Comparisons between centers were determined from results of paired t-tests. This study yielded overall results toward the positive side, although responses ranged through all five points on the scale.