Early childhood intervention: What is best practice?

Best practice in early childhood intervention

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When you have a baby, it’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about hitting milestones. You may find yourself comparing your baby to another child in your mother’s group who keeps rolling/sitting/crawling/walking/talking/doing just about everything — months before your bub. We’ve all been there. 

Comparing our kids to other children is so easy to do. But what if you’re genuinely worried your little one isn’t reaching a major milestone on time? Perhaps they’re still non-verbal by their second birthday, or maybe they’re 18 months old and they’re still not walking. 

You might be thinking about early childhood intervention and wondering if it actually works. Is it worth the time, effort, and money to seek further help? 

Here we break down everything you need to know about early childhood intervention. 

What is best practice in early childhood intervention?

Early intervention focuses on looking at baby and toddler development with their parents and setting age-appropriate goals, creating a strategy to succeed in reaching those goals, and ultimately helping the child close the gap in any developmental milestones. 

According to the New South Wales government’s education website: “Early intervention is specialised support provided for young children who have a disability or learning support need and their families. It promotes each child’s development and meaningful participation in all aspects of their life.”

In Australia, there are a limited number of early intervention support classes across public schools. They run during the school term and offer preschool programs for kids with a confirmed disability. 

While each state may operate differently, little ones with a disability from three years of age and up to school age are able to apply. As per the NSW Government’s education website, there are two key support programs offered by early intervention schools:

  • Early intervention support class sessions provide individualised learning programs in a class of five to eight children. Children usually attend 2.5-hour sessions, two or three days a week.
  • Early intervention resource support is a collaborative approach where the early intervention teacher works with the child’s regular childcare centre or preschool, to support the child and the staff at that centre.

A supported playgroup may be offered by the early intervention support class in some areas. The programs provided will work closely with parents, experts, and early childhood educators to meet the specific needs of each child and to ensure a smooth transition to school. 

Additional funding may also be provided through the local delivery support team for a child who has a disability, with moderate to severe support needs. 

What are the principles of early intervention?

Preventing a mental health problem or a physical disability means intervening before the condition develops. Early intervention aims to identify and improve factors that may impact the issue. 

Research shows that the first few years of our little one’s life are extremely important, especially when it comes to their development — from their cognitive functions to their social behaviours and physical abilities. However, many kids can come up against challenges during their crucial years, which delays healthy development. 

The principles of early intervention are focused on programs that help alleviate these stressors and ultimately support the children, parents, and the entire family unit. 

Early childhood development

The most important thing to remember when it comes to milestones is that children develop at their own pace and within a range of what is normal. The endpoint of a child’s development is also variable — whether it’s running, walking, swimming, singing, or painting. As humans, we are all so different and unique.

“My three [kids] are completely different. But having my third one who has a disability, I was able to flag that because I had the mother’s instinct and I also had people around me, including a wonderful group of experts to keep a check on things. Early intervention is key in those situations,” Kiindred’s founder Emmy Samtani explains of the benefits of early intervention. 

We need to support our little ones regardless of their differences. Whether you are navigating your own challenge or know someone that is, it’s important to support each other and ensure we are giving these little ones the best chance of success — and that’s why early childhood intervention is so important.

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