An inclusive practice
Childcare providers must ensure that every child at their setting is included. Every child is unique and will develop at their own pace, so it’s not about treating all children in exactly the same way but treating each child fairly and paying attention to their individual interests and needs.
Childcare providers must:
- embrace and celebrate every child’s uniqueness
- treat all children and their families equally and with respect
- include and support every child, regardless of ethnic background, culture, language, gender, socio-economic background or disability
- ensure that every child is able to participate in activities
- provide resources that reflect the background of each child.
Children should be supported to:
- feel safe and welcome at the setting
- develop a sense of belonging
- learn and develop at their own pace
- reach their full potential.
Caring for children with SEND
Many childcare providers look after children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). A child may be diagnosed before joining a setting, or the childcarer may be involved in identifying an individual need Childcare providers make daily observations of each child’s learning and development at their setting. This gives them a good understanding of whether each child is meeting expected milestones. If there are any concerns, the first thing a childcare provider will do is talk with the parent/s and work with you to support your child. They may also be able to help you find further support if needed.
All childcare providers “must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. The benefits of early identification are widely recognised – identifying need at the earliest point, and then making effective provision, improves long-term outcomes for children.” (SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years).
In real life...
One parent shares her story about identifying her son’s speech and language delay.
Heejung and her husband Adam both worked freelance, so when it came to sourcing childcare for their son, Alex, they were looking for something that would provide the flexibility they needed. What they didn’t realise at the time was that the childminder they found would be instrumental in the early identification of a speech and language delay which, if left unsupported, could have had a profound impact on Alex’s future learning and development.
With both my husband and myself working freelance, I knew that we would have to find childcare that was flexible enough to cope with irregular working patterns that could change at short notice.
The moment I met Sarah I knew she would be the right person for our family, and the perfect childminder for my son. She immediately struck me as someone who would be mindful of Alex’s needs and interests. Sarah had created a fantastic setting in her family home that felt warm and inviting, and I could see that Alex would benefit from the home-based setting and being able to interact with other children of different ages.
As well as the other children in the setting, Sarah had three children of her own so it was clear she was an experienced mum as well as taking her profession very seriously. I was impressed by her membership of PACEY, which I hadn’t heard of before, and it was clear that Sarah was committed to her own training and development which was a clear indication of her professionalism.
With my working schedule, I had to be able to rely on consistent childcare, and I was confident that Sarah would be very reliable. She also worked with her mum as her co-childminder, so it was reassuring to know that there was an extra pair of hands around if needed.
Sarah quickly established a rapport with Alex and was very good on keeping me updated with all the milestones he was achieving, and keeping records of his learning goals. Being Korean, I was keen to bring up my son as bi-lingual and Sarah was happy to support this – I even shared with her some simple words in Korean that she could use for things like Mummy, Daddy, hello, goodbye, drink, and Sarah bought some new books for the setting on first words in Korean.
When Sarah first raised her concerns about Alex’s speech and language when he was 2-and-a-half, I was very surprised. She approached it in a very gentle, sensitive way, and gave specific examples of why she had concerns. As a first time mum I was very grateful to listen to her professional opinion. She did an initial assessment and explained that he did not have the full range of words that would be expected for his age. Sarah helped us every step of the way in seeking out further help and support for Alex. Her detailed observations meant that we were able to clearly highlight our concerns to a paediatrician. He did a number of hearing and other tests and was, thankfully, able to rule out any physical barriers.
With Sarah’s support, we contacted the local children’s centre who were able to refer us to a speech and language therapist. We attended a series of speech and language group sessions which were incredibly helpful, as well as reassuring in knowing that we were on the right path to helping Alex.
By the time Alex was ready to start reception, he was very much on target in meeting all his development goals!
When you see him now – a lively and chatty little boy, you wouldn’t believe that he had only a few words at the age of 2! It was so interesting to see Alex becoming so confident in his use of language – he was even translating Korean for his younger brother who, despite meeting all his language development goals, didn’t show much interest in learning Korean !
I am absolutely certain that, thanks to Sarah’s early intervention, we had managed to prevent Alex having problems further down the line. We were able to take action promptly and get the support he needed – and for that I will always be grateful to Sarah.
Spotting speech and language problems: a childminder’s perspective
As a PACEY member I am always eager to take up their free training. As a result of the free CPD training on supporting children with speech, language and communication I adapted my setting to incorporate as many engaging opportunities as possible to develop children’s communication skills.
When I first met Alex, I found him to be a very caring, loving and gentle boy. Initially I had made an assumption that Alex was a little shy and perhaps quieter because he was exposed to dual language in his family. As with all children, I recorded his starting points and began to build a rapport.
As time went by it became apparent that Alex’s vocabulary was not increasing as it should. He would gain my attention physically rather than using words – for instance, he would grab one of my fingers and lead me to the toys he wanted to play with.
Alex appeared to have a high level of understanding but was not communicating in either English or Korean. Within a group of children I observed that he would often not be included as the other children weren’t getting enough of a response from him. I was on high alert when, after reflecting back on Alex’s observations, I realised that he had stopped using some of the few words he had previously used in the past. I had also never witnessed Alex mimic speech or sounds.
Keeping detailed observations was the key to identifying that Alex needed some additional support. The observations showed that he was not achieving his developmental milestones. I then increased the amount and varied the type of observations. For instance, I did ‘time in motion’, ‘group observations’ and set up particular activities to record his response.
I had been keeping Heejung up to date with a daily contact book and quarterly reviews of Alex’s development. The two year check was particularly useful to demonstrate my observations and share with both Alex’s parents and other health professionals. Before I approached Heejung and Adam I wanted to make sure that I was also able to support them, so I completed PACEY’s Raising Developmental Concerns with Parents course.
I talked through my observations and Heejung took these home over the weekend, so that she could gain a greater understanding of Alex’s delayed speech and language development against the expected age-related milestones. This also allowed her and Adam time to understand my concerns and discuss Alex’s needs.
Once we had sought help from the paediatrician and the speech therapist, I made sure I adapted activities in the setting to offer as much support to Alex as possible. I created lots of opportunities for Alex to utilise and encourage his communication skills – he loved puppet shows, books, music, roleplay, and sensory play and I discovered that one of Alex’s favourite things was bubbles! He was always more vocal when we played with bubbles!
My experience demonstrated the importance of keeping up to date with your training – it really helps keep you fresh and stay alert to any possible issues with children in your setting. I was so pleased to be able to help out Alex and it is so rewarding to witness the huge developmental leap he made once he had received the extra help he needed.