Additional Needs and Inclusion Resources for Early Childhood Educators

Inclusive practices in early childhood education ensure all children, including those with additional learning needs, have equitable and authentic opportunities to learn and develop.  

Our early childhood education resources share inclusive practice examples. An illustration of this can be seen in Inclusive Outdoor Play. The resource demonstrates how outdoor environments can meet the needs of all children with a little creativity and some lateral thinking. 

We also provide special needs resources to support learners with dyslexia, autistic spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and other diversities. The A to Z of Special Needs is a popular title.  

Browse our resources to promote inclusive practice in childcare and success for all. 


What are additional and special educational needs? 

Additional and special educational needs are children’s diverse range of learning abilities. For some, the diversity makes learning difficult on an ongoing, temporary or recurrent basis.  

Diversities can arise for a variety of reasons.  

Special needs children can have a disability. These children may have specific requirements because of the following:  

  • diagnosed with a physical, sensory, intellectual or autism spectrum disorder 
  • behavioural or psychological disorder 
  • communication, learning or developmental delay. 

An additional educational need can also result from different cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic and family backgrounds. An example of this could be a child who has recently immigrated to New Zealand.  

Other children who will require additional support are those living in complex or vulnerable circumstances. This includes those from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have experienced trauma. 

What is inclusive practice in the early years? 

Inclusive practice in the early years is enabling all children to have equal and genuine opportunities to actively participate in and learn from everyday routines, interactions, play and learning experiences. 

It is when educators make holistic curriculum decisions based on each child’s diverse strengths and needs. In inclusive practice in early childhood, educators identify and remove barriers to ensure children to learn through active participation and meaningful play. 

Inclusive practice occurs when educators form partnerships with families, whānau and other professionals to make informed decisions and foster a community culture. 

Inclusive practices in early childhood education also extend to the learning environment. As well as being accessible to everyone, it should acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of the children in the setting. 

If you are looking for professional development in the area of cultural and social inclusion, check out our online courses

What are examples of inclusive practice in childcare? 

An example of inclusive practice in childcare is a sensory garden. In Inclusive Outdoor Play, author Anne Vize describes sensory gardens as a place where “senses of stimulated, where smells linger and where the eye is drawn to interesting features.”  

Sensory gardens need to be well planned, though, to meet the needs of the variety of children who will play there. For example, consider how children with mobility impairments can access the areas of the garden.  Children are not content just looking at the garden. They need to touch, feel and manipulate the objects within.  

Inclusive practice examples are also shared as case studies in Including All Children.  

One case study involves the creation of Mother’s Day cards, where adjustments were made to meet diverse language needs in the early childhood education setting.  

Rollers and sponges were used to decorate the cards. An example card was left on display, and a set of laminated pictures showing the process of using rollers and placing the finished card on a drying table. 

Pencils were provided so children could write a message if they wish. Alternatively, already printed messages could to be pasted into cards.  

These are only two inclusive practice examples for childcare. Browse our resources to discover more.