Synthesis Mini-Literature Review Paper

Synthesis Mini-Literature Review Paper

Inclusive early childhood education is a topic of further scholarly and policy scrutiny, considering the overarching need to cultivate a learning environment sensitive to all primary and secondary dimensions of diversity. According to Leijen et al. (2021), the ideal of inclusive early-childhood education obtained insights and inspiration for the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Salamanca Statement of 1994 that established a fundamental right to education for every child. In the United States, landmark laws concerning special education in the 1970s, including PARC v. Pennsylvania (1972) and Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia (1972), significantly shaped the trajectories of inclusive education by transforming the placement policies and necessitating inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream education programs. Despite the international and national vigor for implementing an inclusive education program, its implementation remains elusive and disparate (Ainscow, 2020). Differences in perspectives and prevailing structural issues significantly contribute to flawed early childhood education. Therefore, this paper explores the current scholarly literature to identify challenges and opportunities for creating inclusive early childhood education programs responsive and sensitive to children’s diversity.

Mini-Literature Review

Benefits of Inclusive Early-childhood Early Childhood Education

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The current scholarly literature associates inclusive early-childhood education programs with multiple benefits, including improved social, academic, and psychological development. Rad et al. (2022) conducted a scoping review of 40 studies to answer a broad research question; what outcomes have been recorded in terms of excellent early childhood education efforts that are inclusive and equitable? After a rigorous review of eligible studies identified from Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, and PubMed, the researchers revealed consensus findings regarding the benefits of inclusive early childhood education. According to Rad et al. (2020), inclusive early-childhood education programs significantly benefit children’s psychological, social, and academic development since they facilitate personalized educational instruction, positive social engagement, and participation in daily learning activities.

Daniels & Pyle (2022) revealed similar findings after conducting a qualitative multiple case study involving three kindergarten teachers in Ontario, Canada. This study explored teachers’ perspectives and practices for inclusive play-based learning. The study sought to answer two research questions; (1) How do enactors view and implement play-based learning in inclusive classroom environments? (2) How do enactors support children with diverse abilities in classroom play contexts? The researchers invited participants for follow-up interviews that focused on the research questions. The study revealed that play-based learning and inclusive education benefits children by promoting on-task behaviors and self-regulation abilities (Daniels & Pyle, 2022). Other benefits of play-based kindergarten include fostering social participation and building a community of respect and acceptance for all children.

Rhoad-Drogalis & Justice (2020) emphasize the impact of inclusive preschool programs on improved academic performance of children with disabilities. The researchers conducted language and literacy assessments for children to measure their language and literacy skills. The study involved 516 preschool children who attended publicly funded center-based classrooms serving children with disabilities. These studies revealed inconsistent findings regarding the impacts of inclusive preschool education on children’s spring achievement for three outcomes: language, print-concept knowledge, and alphabet knowledge (Rhoad-Drogalis & Justice, 2020). Based on these inconsistent findings, researchers recommend further research on the topic.

Challenges in Creating Inclusive Early-childhood Education

Many current scholarly studies identify and explore the challenges of creating Inclusive early-childhood education. In a descriptive qualitative study, Ismiatun & Atika (2020) explore the intricacies of implementing inclusive education (IE) in Indonesia. The study answers three research questions: (1) How do teachers’ understandings affect the implementation of inclusive education? (2) What are the obstacles in implementing IE, and how to deal with them? (3) What are the teachers’ expectations of IE in Early Childhood Education (ECE) for the best? The researchers used semi-structured interview questions to obtain information from 15 teachers from three provinces in Indonesia consistent with the identified research questions (Ismiatun & Atika, 2020). The study reveals that teachers’ inability to handle special education needs (SEN), parental fear regarding SEN behaviors, and infrastructural constraints are significant obstacles to implementing inclusive early-childhood education. These findings agree with other scientific studies conducted in different settings.

Leifler (2020) conducted a mixed-methods study to explore the effects of teachers’ self-efficacy in implementing inclusive early-childhood education in a large-sized district school in Swedish. Another primary objective of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of a three-session professional development (PD) program in strengthening teachers’ awareness and readiness to create inclusive learning environments (Leifler, 2020). The researchers sought to answer two research questions; (1) To what extent does a short PD program enhance general teachers’ readiness to create inclusive learning environments for students with neurodevelopmental conditions (NDCs)? (2) What changes in differences in perceived self-efficacy were recorded after the intervention? The study revealed that teachers’ inadequate knowledge and capacity to create inclusive learning environments are barriers to implementing inclusive early-childhood education (Leifler, 2020, p. 233). Therefore, there is an overarching need to implement competency development programs for teachers to equip them with the necessary competencies and knowledge to create inclusive learning environments.

In an attitude survey distributed to 14 institutions in Shanghai and Anhui provinces in China, Su et al. (2018) adopted a wider research approach to examine and compare attitudes towards inclusive education among teachers and parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The researchers developed an attitude survey based on Leyser & Kirk’s ‘Attitude Toward Inclusion/Mainstreaming’ and Wen’s ‘Attitude Toward Inclusive Education’ scales. Based on an analysis of participants’ responses (n=712), the study revealed that teachers held the least positive attitude about including children with autism spectrum disorder compared to parents. Teachers with negative perceptions and attitudes toward children with ASD perceived them as disturbing and a source of distraction for other students in the classroom (Su et al., 2018, p. 11). Various institutional factors may have contributed to the prevalence of negative perceptions among teachers. These factors include limited support from colleagues and administrators, a lack of training on inclusion, test-oriented teacher-evaluation strategies, and large classroom size.

Research findings from an attitude survey by Su et al. (2018) are consistent with scholarly findings from a qualitative study by Zabeli et al. (2020). This study explores how preschool teachers understand inclusive education. The research questions that guide the study are; (1) how do preschool teachers understand inclusive education, and how prepared are they to teach children with special needs? (2) what are preschool teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion during the early years? (3) what are preschool teachers’ challenges in implementing inclusive education, and how do they see the perspective of inclusive education? Consistent with these research questions, the study capitalizes on the experiences of 10 preschool teachers working in preschool institutions in Kosovo (Zabeli et al., 2020). The study reveals that preschool teachers need more appropriate school infrastructure, limited access to resources, limited support by the school administration, inadequate teacher training, and ineffective collaboration and cooperation between parents and institutions (Zabeli et al., 2020, p. 12). Positive attitudes toward inclusion can significantly motivate preschool teachers to develop inclusive school environments.

Trivino-Amigo et al. (2023) concur with Leifler (2020) scholarly contentions regarding the role of teachers’ preparedness and perceived competencies in creating an inclusive school environment. Trivino-Amigo et al. (2023) conducted a survey study to analyze teachers’ perceptions regarding their preparation for inclusion by assessing possible differences depending on the educational stage. The researchers hypothesized that teachers’ perceptions regarding the preparation for inclusive education would differ due to age and the educational stage. To test this hypothesis, they analyzed responses from 1098 Spanish teachers. The study reveals significant differences in teachers’ perceptions of preparedness across all the educational stages. Consistent with these findings, Trivino-Amigo et al. (2023) conclude that teachers’ lack of initial preparation to face diversity is one of the greatest barriers to inclusive education. Therefore, strategies for enhancing teachers’ preparedness, including adequate training on diversity, can enhance inclusive education.


Opportunities for Improving Inclusive Early-childhood Education

Amidst challenges that compromise schools’ ability to implement inclusive early-childhood education, current evidence recommends ideal strategies for creating inclusive education programs for children with disabilities and children from marginalized communities. Steed et al. (2023) conducted a qualitative interview study to explore early childhood administrators’ perspectives on preschool inclusion. The study sought to answer two research questions; (1) How did administrators describe preschool inclusion? (2) What did administrators say was needed to provide high-quality preschool inclusion? The researchers interviewed 23 administrators from a Western state in the US to understand their perspectives on preschool inclusion (Steed et al., 2023). The study revealed that support for education personnel, adequate financial resources, and space were common themes related to the second research question. Support for personnel entails better training, adequate staffing, and allocation of adequate funds for implementing inclusive early-childhood education.

At the classroom level, teachers can implement various strategies to improve the quality and feasibility of inclusive preschool education. In a quantitative survey involving 89 Portuguese preschool teachers, Sanches-Ferreira et al. (2022) evaluated preschool teachers’ opinions about the desirability and feasibility of a set of empirically validated strategies to improve teacher-child interactions in early childhood education and care (ECEC). The guiding research questions were: (1) According to ECEC teachers, how desirable and feasible is a set of strategies to promote group engagement and the engagement of children with disabilities? (2) What reasons do teachers attribute to the feasibility of strategies to use with the group and child with a disability? (3) Are there differences between ECEC teachers’ desirability and feasibility ratings of these strategies at the child and group levels? Sanches-Ferreira et al. (2022) revealed various themes for improving inclusive early-childhood education consistent with participants’ responses. These themes include classroom management through mutual support and a proactive approach, attending to children’s perspectives, scaffolding learning, and emotionally responsive interactions (Sanches-Ferreira et al., 2022). These strategies align with various values, including providing comfort, reassurance, social cooperation, and building on learners’ knowledge and experiences.


Implementing inclusive early-childhood education can benefit children with disabilities, immigrants, bilinguals, and those from marginalized communities. The current scholarly literature associates inclusive early-childhood education with improved social, psychological, behavioral, and academic development. However, there are challenges prevalent when implementing inclusive education programs. Teachers’ perceptions, inadequate preparedness, competency issues, financial constraints, infrastructural deficiencies, and negative perceptions of classroom inclusion significantly threaten the feasibility of inclusive education programs. Educational stakeholders should implement evidence-based recommendations to improve the quality and susceptibility of inclusive prekindergarten education. Evidence-based recommendations include allocating sufficient resources, personnel training and competency development, instructional differentiation, scaffolding learning, and classroom management.


Ainscow, M. (2020). Inclusion and equity in education: Making sense of global challenges. PROSPECTS.

Danniels, E., & Pyle, A. (2022). Inclusive play-based learning: Approaches from enacting kindergarten teachers. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Ismiatun, A. N., & Atika, A. R. (2020). Facing the challenges of inclusive education in early childhood education. Proceedings of the International Conference on Early Childhood Education and Parenting 2019 (ECEP 2019).

Leifler, E. (2020). Teachers’ capacity to create inclusive learning environments. International Journal for Lesson & Learning Studies, 9(3), 221–244.

Leijen, Ä., Arcidiacono, F., & Baucal, A. (2021). The dilemma of inclusive education: Inclusion for some or inclusion for all. Frontiers in Psychology, 12(1).

Rad, D., Redeş, A., Roman, A., Ignat, S., Lile, R., Demeter, E., Egerău, A., Dughi, T., Balaş, E., Maier, R., Kiss, C., Torkos, H., & Rad, G. (2022). Pathways to inclusive and equitable quality early childhood education for achieving SDG4 goal—a scoping review. Frontiers in Psychology, 13.

Rhoad-Drogalis, A., & Justice, L. M. (2019). Is the proportion of children with disabilities in inclusive preschool programs associated with children’s achievement? Journal of Early Intervention, 42(1), 83–96.

Sanches-Ferreira, M., Gonçalves, J. L., Araújo, S. B., Alves, S., & Barros, S. (2022). Building inclusive preschool classrooms: How desirable and feasible is a set of strategies that facilitate teacher-child relationships? Frontiers in Education, 7, 1–26.

Steed, E. A., Strain, P. S., Rausch, A., Hodges, A., & Bold, E. (2023). Early childhood administrator perspectives about preschool inclusion: A qualitative interview study. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Su, X., Guo, J., & Wang, X. (2018). Different stakeholders’ perspectives on inclusive education in China: Parents of children with ASD, parents of typically developing children, and classroom teachers. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24(9), 948–963.

Triviño-Amigo, N., Polo-Campos, I., Gomez-Paniagua, S., Barrios-Fernandez, S., Mendoza-Muñoz, M., & Rojo-Ramos, J. (2023). Differences in the perception regarding inclusion preparation among teachers at different educational stages. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(4), 3420.

Zabeli, N., & Gjelaj, M. (2020). Preschool teacher’s awareness, attitudes and challenges towards inclusive early childhood education: A qualitative study. Cogent Education, 7(1).



Part 1 – Synthesis Mini-Literature Review Paper

Candidates will develop a literature review on a topic of interest that involves Early Childhood, Bilingual/ESL/Immigrant, and Special Education. This topic should be of benefit to their current work situation. It should build on the topic by emphasizing the influence of your topic on the three groups we are focusing on in our course: Early Childhood, Bilingual/ESL/Immigrant, and Special Education.

Topic- Early Childhood, Bilingual/ESL/Immigrant, and Special Education parental/student incarceration

Candidates will then formulate an inquiry question that specifically describes what they would like to know about their topic.

The final paper must include a minimum of 10 recent (past 5 years), peer-reviewed, research-based articles on the topic. What does the literature have to say about the issue?

The paper should be written in the format of a Literature Review and not a Research Report. This means that the paper will not be a restatement of what other researchers have said about a topic. Instead, it should include a presentation of the relevant studies while highlighting the relationships between the studies. Note where researchers agree or disagree, and especially how the studies relate to your inquiry question.

The final Mini Literature Review Synthesis should follow the following outline.


The introduction is used to establish the context of your review to the reader. To establish the context, it is important to do the following in this opening paragraph:

Define the topic of your study and provide any background information that helps your reader to understand the topic.

Explain your reason (perspective) for reviewing the literature on this topic.

State your inquiry question for this review.


This section of your paper begins with an explanation of how you have organized your small-scale literature review and describes findings from articles that provide answers to your inquiry question. It will include at least three subtopics for review, and each subtopic will include the following:

Present questions, methods, hypotheses, and participants to review the first study presented. Include the results achieved at the end of the research.

When introducing the second study, address the importance and difference between this one and the one mentioned above.

For study three and others presented, if necessary, the procedure just explained should be followed. The most important factor is to explain why the different studies differ from each other, whether it’s because of the outcomes, research approach, etc.

Repeat the analysis for other subtopics relevant to the review.


This is the last paragraph of the mini-literature review. In this paragraph, it is important to summarize the main findings from the articles that you reviewed and to point out the information that you found particularly important to know that answered the inquiry question that you established in the first paragraph of your review. Try to conclude your paper by connecting your inquiry question back to the context of the general topic of study. Specifically, include a discussion of how this information will be of benefit to their current work situation and/or dissertation topic.


This is the last page of your review. It serves as a listing of all references that you mentioned in your paper. Please use APA 7th ed. style when completing this list.


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