TOY for Inclusion is a European project and an approach which aims to promote inclusive community-based early childhood education and care and bring services for children and their families to where they are needed. TOY for inclusion is implemented in 8 countries and all activities take place in locally established Play Hubs. These are safe, non-formal, high‑quality, Early Childhood Education and Care spaces where relationships between young children (0 to 10 years) and families from all backgrounds are built.
There are two Play Hubs in Slovakia: one in Spišský Hrhov and one in Roškovce. Both Play Hubs are situated in the village primary schools and have been successful in bringing young children from Roma and non-Roma communities together in a playful environment.
Wide Open School – Škola dokorán (WOS), the organisation implementing TOY for Inclusion in Slovakia, received support from the Kahane Foundation for the pilot project ‘TOY for Inclusion: Access to All’ to promote inclusivity for children with special needs in the local Play Hub and in the community’s other educational services. ICDI is supporting WOS in the implementation of this project, through a research study and the development of a toolkit.
The overall goal of the project is to increase preparedness and access to regular education for young Roma children with and without disabilities in Dolany – Roskovce.
Our specific objectives are:
- to organise inclusive non-formal education activities for young Roma children with and without disabilities to facilitate a smooth transition into primary education and improving their educational experience and performance in the long run.
- to collaborate with Roma (future) parents to promote responsive and positive parenting for all children, so that children can be better supported at home and in school.
- to build the capacities of early years services (education, health and social) to be more inclusive towards children with disabilities and their families, and to be culturally sensitive towards those with minority backgrounds.
The outcomes of this project will be used to transfer the approach to other Play Hubs in Europe (16 in total) and will be presented to state institutions in Slovakia.
- Desk research on most promising evidence-based approaches for inclusive education for children with special needs;
- Development of the toolkit for practitioners on how to promote inclusive formal and non formal education with young children and their parents;
- Capacity building of Local Action Team on how to promote inclusive education for young children and their families;
- Implementation of local non-formal community-based ECEC initiatives: For parents: Parenting Support Program workshops, Health advice, Social advice, training, seminars with ECEC experts – teachers, medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, etc.; For children with special needs: activities to support their skills, knowledge and preparation for entering (pre) primary education; Music therapy – connecting children with different abilities and cultural backgrounds through music and cultural activities;
- Design of evaluation tools and dissemination.
- the number of Roma children enrolled in kindergarten increases by 50% (+ ca. 40)
- the number of Roma children with special needs enrolled in kindergarten and mainstream education increases by 50% (+ ca. 20)
- 100 Roma (future) parents are trained and supported in the Play Hub on playful learning and positive parenting
- 100 new children between 0 and 8 years old participate in activities at the Play Hub
- 20 professionals trained in inclusive education methods