Maximizing Peer-Mediated Resources in Integrated Preschool Classrooms

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The inclusion of young children with special needs has been a predominant topic in early childhood special education in the past 25 years. Despite considerable advocacy and public policy, the instructional resources provided in integrated preschool settings continue to present a dilemma for many professionals and families. Although an abundance of research indicates that peers can be functional and potent resources, some studies have suggested that placement in integrated preschool programs does not always enhance the skills of preschoolers with disabilities. This article describes four characteristics that might be associated with the optimal use of peer-mediated procedures in integrated preschools: comprehensive in the skills and activities that they address, intensive or large scale in application, practical and acceptable to teachers, and effective for producing intended outcomes. Peer-mediated interventions with these characteristics may ensure that preschoolers with disabilities accrue positive outcomes from integrated preschool settings.

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