The CHIME Institute, a nonprofit organization established in 1990, is a national leader in the development and implementation of an unique model of inclusive education. Inclusive education at CHIME Institute means that children who reflect the demographics of the surrounding region—including children who develop typically, children with special needs and children who are gifted—learn side by side.
The CHIME Institute, a nonprofit organization established in 1990, is a national leader in the development and implementation of a unique model of inclusive education. The institute began with an early childhood program based at California State University, Northridge.
A philosophy statement clarifies the beliefs and values that form the basis for the programs. It is important for all staff, as well as volunteers, to understand this philosophy.
A child's greatest task is to learn social and communication skills. The ability to get along with others and to effectively get wants and needs met are the most important tools a child can have to meet future learning demands.
Children learn best through activities that challenge the abilities they have and motivate them to reach for new ones. At CHIME we follow each child's lead and build on each child's unique abilities and interests to encourage that natural learning process. We emphasize playful, fun activities that meet the child's developmental needs without losing the child's interest.
Positive interactions with caring adults are essential to children's development. Our intervention activities emphasize interaction so family members are an important part of each activity. We involve family members in developing and using appropriate interactive behaviors so that they can enjoy and, at the same time, maximize their child's development.
Children need to use their developing skills in different ways and in different settings so that they will eventually be able to use their skills independently. We emphasize intervention activities that may be practiced in the home and/or center/school settings in the course of everyday activities.
Children are whole beings, not isolated sets of skills. Instead of single therapy units that treat one skill at a time (e.g., speech time, physical therapy time, etc.), we provide many opportunities for children to participate in coordinated activities in which a variety of skills may be worked on at one time within the classroom setting. The teachers, therapists, and the family jointly develop these activities. Activities are provided within the center and classroom settings, and children are not pulled out to work on specific skills.
Good planning is the secret to helping development along when problems interfere. At CHIME, transdisciplinary team members develop, in partnership with each child's family, intervention activities based on an assessment of the child's developmental strengths and needs as well as the family's priorities.
Collaboration is essential for effective educational programs. To work collaboratively, we need to communicate--time to talk to each other. For this purpose we have joint meetings where we plan together, have in-service training together, and review and reflect on children’s progress.
We have responsibility for the welfare of all the children in the programs. All staff work with both the children who have disabilities and the children without disabilities. This is important to assure that children are not stigmatized or isolated within the classroom.
Paraprofessionals play a central role in the realization of the CHIME philosophy. They provide assistance to enable the children to participate in the center or classroom, and they help monitor the children's developmental progress and social integration.
Finally, we use a transdisciplinary approach. Designated instructional services (DIS) and therapies are provided in the context of the regular classroom. This enables the specialists to model special interventions for the paraprofessionals and general education teachers. In this way, the staff who work with the children most often can implement specialized interventions on an ongoing basis.