People who are already parents to a special education student are likely very familiar with the concept of mainstreaming. The federal IDEA legislation requires mainstreaming, so it is important for both education professionals as well as parents to know all about mainstreaming. This week we are exploring mainstreaming. Read on to learn the pros and cons of the process as well as what exactly mainstreaming is.

Mainstreaming Defined

Essentially, it means placing a special education student in a classroom alongside peers who do not have any disabilities. Usually, mainstreaming is not for student’s entire schedule. It is totally suitable to mainstream a student for some subjects, but not all. Meanwhile, the other parts of the day, the student remains in a special education classroom that has the resources necessary to help them. Those rooms are called “resource rooms”.


On the other hand, there are also possible drawbacks to mainstreaming.

General Education Teachers Are Not Special Education Teachers

One of the major concerns about mainstreaming special education students is that teachers have improper training. Special education teachers go through a wide variety of trainings in order to succeed at their job. Other teachers also go through training, but not to teach special education. Placing students in a classroom with an underprepared teacher is a bad plan for everyone involved.

It is possible for the situation to go poorly in a number of ways. Teachers may need to devote more attention to the special education student. That attention and time often leads to building tensions between traditional students and mainstreamed students.

Social Issues

Those building tensions often lead to social issues. Additionally, special education students oftentimes struggle socially to begin with. All of those issues combined only become more pronounced as students get older. Unless a strong and confidant teacher integrates the mainstreamed student into the fold, social issues may arise. Parents, students, special education teachers, and mainstream teachers need to work together if social issues arise. Teamwork is often the difference between a miserable and an enjoyable classroom experience.


There are a wide variety of benefits to mainstreaming students.

Improved Confidence

Allowing special education students to interact with their peers boosts their confidence. When students are kept separate from their peers, it can make them feel inferior. Of course, that is never the intention, but leading a separate life from other students their age can be extremely damaging to self-confidence.

Higher Academic Achievement

Students succeed when schools give them the space to do so. For example, if a student struggles with dyslexia. The student may struggle with reading and language arts. However, that student may be highly successful in math. Allowing student to succeed in their strengths boosts overall academic performance.