Early intervention can mean so much to a little kiddo if detection begins soon enough. So many children go unscreened every year depleting the odds of a child being able to get early intervention to help them catch up to their peers because of not being screened or someone thinking that they will grow out of it and catch up later. We wait way too long to help a child reach the milestones needed to succeed. I hear daily that parents think that they will grow out of it or that they don’t want their child labeled, so they will wait until their child gets older to do anything because they are just a child. We have got to stop waiting.
Today, children should be learning from birth, and waiting is wasting valuable time that they could be moving forward. The time that we wait is time that they are getting further and further behind developmentally causing them to already be behind from the first day of school. The sooner that we can help a child get the attention needed to work on developmental issues the sooner they can overcome them and move on to the next level. Our world is emphasizing so much on a little one at such a young age that it leaves little room for a child not to be where they need to be to succeed.
I also hear so many parents explain that they had no idea that there were any issues and that they didn’t have anyone to tell them that there were any issues. But their child was in some type of program daily as well as went to regular checks ups. This is where I see as a society we are letting our children down. Our programs whether it be private or public should be screening children at every age and seeing where they are developmentally. This is to catch early issues and help them gain the knowledge needed to get them where they need to be. Sometimes it’s just the lack of being introduced to a specific thing so once a child is introduced and practiced they have it but if we don’t screen them then this is not caught until way too late. You as an early education teacher have the responsibility to educate young children and prepare them for kindergarten. The following are five tips on how you can help detect developmental delays and help a child in your care.
- Complete an age-appropriate developmental screening tool. This should be done periodically and consistently. I recommend every six months to at least every year for kiddos. There are several screener tools out there like the ASQ-3 and the Brigance Screener. The ASQ-3 tool is very self-explanatory and is utilized with family members as well as used within the First steps program to recommend services. Both screeners do infants up to 6 years of age.
- Know developmentally appropriate milestones for the ae group that you care for. It is imperative for you as the teacher to know what is suitable for that age group for many reasons but also so that you can help a child reach those milestones. It is seen time and time again that parents and even teachers have very stringent expectations for youngsters that are not appropriate and the parent or teacher gets discouraged as well as the child. This is also an excellent way for a teacher to help the parents to know what is developmentally appropriate.
- Talk with families and let them know what milestones are appropriate for that age group and see if there are any concerns that they may have. Also, when you complete the screener make sure that you share that information with the family. They need to know where their child is at so that they can help them at home. This is an excellent time for you to share activities that they could do with their child at home to help them exceed and be able to complete the screener. Sometimes it is just a lack of exposure.
- If there are concerns talk with the families. Don’t hide it as this does nothing to help the child. This gives them the opportunity to speak with their child’s pediatrician or as a teacher you may be able to make a referral to your first steps agency or the local school district. First steps work with children 0 to 2 ½, where the school system would work with those 3 and above. The pediatrician can also help with getting OT and PT or Speech. This can be life-changing for a child if caught soon enough to where they can get the intervention needed and be at the same level as their peers in no time.
- This process can be lengthy and may take some time. There is no reason to wait to provide activities to the child that will help them succeed regardless. You can do this by providing engaging activities that are developmentally appropriate and build upon one another. If you use either one of the tools mentioned above, they offer activities that can help a child work in a specific area of concern. You can always look up activities as well that have to do with each area.
If you have questions on what is developmentally appropriate then feel free to look through our resources for developmentally appropriate milestones for each age groups!