Create more inclusive spaces for parents, not just for kids

I congratulate Kindle Garden on pioneering an inclusive pre-school and setting aside 30 per cent of places for children with special needs ("Waiting list for inclusive pre-school"; last Friday).

I also respect the other 70 per cent of parents who embrace the idea of integration.

Parents with special needs children desire societal acceptance and want to give their children a chance to function and mingle with others in the mainstream context.

Children are intuitive beings. They can detect people who are different from them, yet are without prejudice.

Children's acceptance of people different from them is highly influenced by their parents' attitude. Therefore, the concept of inclusion begins at home.

Let's put not only children together, but also parents.

To make Singapore more inclusive, we need to create opportunities where there is time and space for children with and without special needs to play together.

We need to create more inclusive playgrounds in the neighbourhood to encourage parents to take their children with special needs to play in the open without feeling judged.

Indirectly, this will encourage parents to educate one another through casual chit-chats while supervising their children at the playgrounds.

Let us have play equipment that encourages small groups of children to invite one another to play cooperatively.

The essence of relationship building and acceptance is time together. In the process, children learn to look out for one another.

This is the best way to educate other parents and adults on the true meaning of acceptance without prejudice.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Create more inclusive spaces for parents, not just for kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe