Posted: November 27th, 2013
Children with Additional Needs
Children with Additional Needs
Early childhood educators have a big role to play in identifying children with additional needs that parents might not be in position to identify, as they are not trained in early childhood development. It is very crucial that children are monitored by professional early childhood educators to recognize the needs that a child might need as he grows up to ensure maximum outcome in their education life (Hannell, 2006). The Early Years Learning Framework provides the educators with a framework to follow in educating the young children to identify children with additional needs. The EYLF program suggests having early childhood educators monitor children in their activities such as games, in order to identify their development, considering that young children learn though games. Use of early childhood educators in identifying children with additional needs for children below the age of five years by working together with families raises the chances of finding out whether a child needs additional help to learn, which is beneficial for their future.
Theoretical frameworks involve the educators by assessing the progress of learning in the children. This is done through putting down and evaluating the information by comparing it with the expected outcome of the learning undertaken. Using documentation and evaluation of children performances, the educators are in position to plan the future learning of the children since they are able to know the way they learn (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). Moreover, the educators are able to track how children are making progress in attaining their objectives and what could be the problem if they are not doing well. The educators are able to find out children who are in need of extra or special attention to achieve their expected outcomes, and help the families in providing special needs to the child, and they are in position to realize what might best suit the child’s needs to learn (Spiker, Hebbeler, Wagner, Cameto & McKenna, 2000)
Philosophical framework suggests using a capability approach in identifying the differences of each child in relation to their social institution, and poverty level that brings about inequality in learning. It aims at realizing what social policies need to be equalized such as the environment that is to assess earning equality, and the kind of measures to use in order to analyze each child’s strengths and weaknesses (Terzi, 2005). According to Terzi (2005), capabilities are defined in terms of, “the real opportunities and freedoms that people have to achieve these valued functioning.” She further suggests that in order to assess a person, one needs to consider the differences of each person in relation to their abilities such as personal traits, difference in relation to external circumstances such as culture, and their ability to convert input to output. In this regard, the educators can balance the environment for all the children to have equal opportunities depending on their differences.
Most of the children who need additional needs to learn usually have a problem that hinders normal learning such as some disability, autism, development disorder, and mental condition that might hinder their ability to learn normally. The legislative framework comes in place to provide rights to equal education for such children through formulating laws that ensure that they have equal opportunity just like the others. In Australia, the legal systems provide that all children with special needs be given an opportunity at provincial level. Ongan & Emily (2005) point out “in Australia, a legislative framework was established that made it unlawful to discriminate against on grounds of disability.” In order to identify children with special needs, the government provides training to the educators to impart them with more knowledge of early childhood learning process (Keeves &Watanabe, 2003). The educators are taught how to evaluate the children’s level of functionality and how to develop a plan for each child in the different categories of their learning (Brian & Delvin, 2004). The policy framework for children with additional needs in Australia has contributed largely to its development, since it provides that there should be preschool education that helps to detect the needs of the children. The policy framework is about set rules that protect the right of children with special needs, and resembles legislative framework. The policy framework provides that, preschools for transition into school are provided, which the EYLF aims to achieve in its curriculum (Kronemann, 1999).
In identification of children with additional needs, there are bound to be barriers and difficulties in achieving this. Some of the barriers are personal differences, cultural barriers, and environmental influence on each particular child as discussed earlier. More so, families that may not understand the needs of their children may not come to terms with their children being treated different from others. Other barriers are affordability of the preschool provision that might not be accessible to all the poor families (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007). On the other hand, the benefits of early identification of children needs are very beneficial to their future since the right help can be accorded to them. This benefits as discussed below with EYLF contribution, are identification of the needs creating a better base for their learning, and helping the children realize their potential and feel part of the community.
The EYLF program has a strong framework for which children at the early age can be engaged in learning communication skills, understanding others, being active learners, and building up the identity of the child. The EYLF defines that identifying children with special needs involves finding out how each individual learns and the speed at which they learn compared to children of the same age, noting that different children will learn in different ways. “The diversity in family life means that children experience belonging, being and becoming in many different ways. They bring different perspectives, expectations, knowledge and skills to their learning,” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). The program set out learning outcome guide meant for guiding the educators in their daily activities with the children through identifying the strengths that the children bear as well as their weaknesses in order to find out what their needs are in developing their skills. The EYLF recognizes that children learn well through playing that provides them with an opportunity to discover new things, build their creativity and imagination. This way, the EYLF helps the young children in identifying their needs in learning, and the educators can find out whether a child will need special or additional needs in order to learn with ease just like others (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009).
The EYLF curriculum involves providing learning environments that are conducive for children learning with nature, where they have a chance to interact with things that are of interest to them such as playing with mud, plants water and rocks among others. Such elements allow children to interact with nature through taking explorations and risks that satisfy their curiosity to learn more considering that children will always want to explore their environment. This way, an educator can know the children who are ready to learn and those who need more help to learn new things and understand others (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). Children who are seen to withdraw from these activities will be identified as needing extra help in order to interact with others; hence, they can have a better chance for learning (Foo & Chaplais, 2008).
To ensure that identification of children with additional abilities is met with ease, it is important that the preschool programs be implemented in all states in Australia to cover all children. More so, at the age of pre-school, identification of their needs would help shape their future in academics as well as life (Brown, Frontczak, Hawkins & Winchell, 2009). This should be a responsibility of every education department in all the states. The other issue that needs improvement is providing a process that ensures all new borns are assessed of any disability that might hinder learning, to provide families with an opportunity to provide for their additional need. Finally, programs such as EYLF and Commonwealth among education systems should team up to exchange ideas and develop professional educators, as well as develop models that ensure the best education in the early childhood sector (Kronemann, 1999). Communicating concerns to the families should be improved through the process of records and written instruction to families guiding them in what to do to ensure progress as well as how they perform with the rest of the children on regular basis. More still, educators should discuss with families in order to know what needs fit the child better.
Early Years Learning Framework has done the right thing in providing a curriculum that helps the educators cater for children in their transition to school. It is very crucial to have this program considering that early detection of children who might need additional help in their learning is a key benefit to their future. Working with the educators and families, children are able to realize their potential, and to the whole community, this increases productivity of all people including those with disabilities, who are the majority requiring additional help.
Brian and Delvin, N. (2004). Supporting Students with Special Education Needs, Especially Those with Multiple Disabilities (Including Deafblindness): A Report from Australia. Australia: Charles Darwin University.
Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australia: Australian Government Department of Education Employment and Workplace.
Foo, A., & Chaplais, J. (2008). Efficacy of pre-school surveillance services in identifying children with special needs. Community Practitioner: the Journal of the Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association, 81 (1): 18-21
Brown, J., Pretti-Frontczak, K., Hawkins, S., & Winchell, B. (2009). Addressing Early Learning Standards for All Children Within Blended Preschool Classrooms. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 29 (3): 131-142
Hannell, G. (2006). Identifying children with special needs: Checklists and action plans for teachers. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Keeves, J. P., & Watanabe, R. (2003). International handbook of educational research in the Asia-Pacific region. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Kronemann, (1999). Towards a national Plan for Preschool Education. Australia: Australian Education union.
Ongan, A., and Emily, A. (2005). Child development and teaching young children. Southbank, Vic: Thomson Social Science.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2007). Students with disabilities, learning difficulties and disadvantages: Statistics and indicators of OAS countries. Paris, France: OECD
Spiker, D., Hebbeler, K., Wagner, M., Cameto, R., & McKenna, P. (2000). A Framework for Describing Variations in State Early Intervention Systems. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 20 (4): 195-207.
Terzi, L. (2005). Beyond the Dilemma of Difference: The Capability Approach to Disability and Special Educational Needs. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 39 (3): 443-459.
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