Early childhood educators are experts at understanding and facilitating child development. But what happens when an educator gets a sense that something isn’t quite right?
We understand from research that the earlier a child in need of intervention is identified and referred on for help, the better the chance they have to get the support they need which leads to better outcomes for children and their families.
According to Early Childhood Intervention Australia (NSW/ACT)’s, Emma Pierce, it’s not unusual that early childhood educators are the first to identify a problem.
‘Early childhood educators are well placed to identify issues,’ Emma said. ‘They have a good understanding of what typical childhood development looks like and can identify when a child is not meeting developmental milestones.’
According to Emma, while they usually understand how important early intervention is, taking the next step and alerting families to a potential problem can be difficult for many educators.
‘It’s a very difficult conversation to have, and may be one of the most challenging an educator may have in their career, but taking the step and having that conversation early can also be very rewarding. Once the child is referred on, and there is an understanding about the assistance a child needs, both the family and educators can start to gather support.’
Emma, who’s facilitating a professional learning session for Gowrie NSW and ECIA NSW/ACT that provides educators with the tools to identify and talk with families, has three key tips to help educators communicate effectively with families around developmental concerns:
- Build trust and respect by establishing and maintaining strong, open and positive relationships with families.
- Maintain a good foundational knowledge of child development, such as an understanding of milestones and when they are typically reached. Recording observations of children’s participation and relating these to your knowledge of child development can be a good starting point.
- Develop a strong network within your team and with other support professionals to provide a sounding board and give you an opportunity to talk through when and how to best talk about the concern with a family.
Topics: Teaching Strategies and Practice