Innovative Practice 2020 on Inclusive Education and ICT

Supporting smooth and inclusive transitions from preschool to primary school

Bridge of Hope is an Armenian NGO supporting rights and inclusion for young people with disabilities in the Yerevan and Tavush provinces of Armenia. Bridge of Hope’s SMILE for Children programme creates an inclusive learning environment and facilitates a smooth transition from preschool to primary school for children with disabilities. The programme includes the training of kindergarten teachers in inclusive learning methods and educating parents on the benefits of inclusion. As of 2019, 145 children with disabilities have been supported across 23 kindergartens.

“My son now has a positive relationship with teachers and classmates, and he feels positive about himself as a learner.”

Mother of a 6-year-old boy
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:SMILE for Children
Organisation:Bridge of Hope
Country
of Implementation
Armenia/ Yerevan, Tavush Marz
Start Year2016

FACTS & FIGURES

  • 145 children with disabilities have been supported in 23 kindergartens.
  • 234 preschool and primary school teachers have participated in training or other capacity-building activities.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Poor inclusion and a difficult transition from preschool to primary school can have long-term effects on the inclusion and participation of children with disabilities.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

SMILE for Children follows a multi-method approach to increase inclusion in preschool and to ensure that children with disabilities, their parents, and their teachers all experience a smooth transition to primary school. It offers capacity-building training for teachers on Inclusive Education, including child-centred teaching and how to develop a supportive learning environment. It also includes monthly mentoring visits to support the implementation of the new practices.

All parents are educated about the benefits of inclusion, and parents of children with disabilities are supported to be active participants in their children’s education. Furthermore, SMILE encourages close and transparent cooperation between teachers and parents.

Seven kindergartens and seven primary schools in Yerevan province and 16 kindergartens and 21 primary schools in Tavush province have been supported. In addition, four case studies were conducted, which showed improved enthusiasm among parents and embracement of the inclusive practices by teachers.

Two children are playing with colorful cubes in front of a toy shelf in Kindergarden in the Berd region.

Inclusive preschool-education at work in a kindergarden in the Berd region.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

At the local level, the organization aims to support all kindergartens in Tavush province, and to support the chair of Preschool Education at the Pedagogical University in Yerevan to incorporate inclusive pedagogy and school-to-school transition in all the university’s preschool courses.

Bridge of Hope has also developed a “Guide to Support Smooth Transition from Preschool Institutions to Primary School,” which can assist in its replication in other regions.

Project costs between 2016 and 2019 totalled €283,000, with €213,000 coming from the Open Society Foundation and the remaining covered by Bridge of Hope.

FACTSHEET

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LINKS AND FURTHER READING