Etgarim’s project for pre-school children with disabilities is offered, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Education, to special kindergartens with children from the ages of three to seven. These are children with delayed development, motor or sensory disabilities or communication deficiencies. The goal of the program is to expand the children’s critical skills in their early stages of development.
The program takes into account individual goals and objectives for each child, as well as a general learning program for the entire kindergarten. The individualized program grants maximal response to the child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive needs. The kindergarten’s staff is comprised of several different professionals including paramedic teams.
The Soft Inclusion Project aims to achieve the following:
Improving gross motor skills – acquiring, assimilating and mastering walking, running, jumping, climbing, crawling, balance, coordinating the two sides of the body and posture.
Relieving fears – facing fears, developing the ability to persevere and persist in the challenging tasks.
Improving social skills – the children are required to work together while cooperating and considering each other’s feelings, abilities, and wills. They learn to trust others, to grant help, and even how to accept help.
Improving cognitive abilities –challenging activities require spatial orientation, developing attention, and concentration skills, understanding a sequence and a process, planning and organizing, understanding instructions and carrying them out, getting to know concepts, an ability to mimic and assimilate, and to improvise and adjust.
Improving language skills – the staff speaks and verbalizes the activity so that the children can expand their vocabulary by learning new words from an unfamiliar field. In addition, the staff tries is very communicative with the children, and encourages such communication among the children themselves.
This project started in 2004 and quickly reached a national scale. The kindergarten staff and parents report that as a result of the activity the children’s self-image and feeling of efficacy have increased, along with significant improvement in motor and social skills.