How Come You Walk Funny?


The Integrated Kindergarten Program (IKP)

The Integrated Kindergarten Program (IKP) was created in 1994 as a pilot project of the Institute of Child Study and the Bloorview MacMillan Centre School. It has since grown beyond the initial pilot phase into a fully functioning annual program.

The Centre is perhaps the only place in the world where all children, no matter their differences, are educated together in a revolutionary "reverse integration" setting that asks able-bodied kids to meet kids with physical challenges on their turf.

Children with physical challenges register through the Bloorview MacMillan Centre School for the publicly-funded Integrated Educational Therapy (IET) program, a non-graded interdisciplinary program where physical, occupational and speech therapy is conducted within the classroom during regular learning time. The IET program prepares graduates for Grade 1 at their local public school.

Able-bodied children from the community register through the Institute of Child Studies and are privately funded through tuition. Graduates are also prepared for Grade 1 at their local public school.

The IKP provides a full day kindergarten with a challenging program that emphasizes academic, social and emotional development. It also fosters ideals of inclusion and empathy. By using children's natural curiosity and by creatively adapting the kindergarten curriculum and learning environment to overcome physical barriers to participation, the class embarks on a journey of self-discovery and academic exploration. Through shared experience, role-playing, and "finding a way that all can play", the class finds common ground for daily living and learning. Differences ultimately take a back seat to achievement as the class jets off into Space, visits the Arctic, learns about medieval studies and creatures of the night, crawls through the rainforest, and digs for dinosaur bones in the Alberta Badlands.

The student teacher ratio is approximately 1 teacher to every 4 students. This includes 2 core teachers, 1 student intern, and 1 educational assistant. The class also receives support from 1 occupational therapist, 1 physical therapist, 1 speech therapist, a psychologist and a number of volunteers. Interns are from the Masters Program in Child Study and Education at the Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, OISE/UT. Research is conducted on an ongoing basis in the IKP classroom as teacher interns, teachers and therapists test and revise new methods of instruction and programming.