Our children learn so much in their first five years – physically, intellectually, and emotionally. From speaking, reading and writing, to crawling, walking and making their first friends.
Of course all children are different, however as parents, it's important to be aware if your child is not meeting expected milestones, and to understand when and how to seek support.
Early childhood intervention is all about giving all children the best possible start in life, regardless of differences in learning and development.
Why is intervening early important?
Penny Markham, Goodstart Early Learning’s National Lead for Social Inclusion, believes it is critical to identify and take action as soon as possible if you think your child may need some extra support.
“If you start early, you have a greater opportunity to address any gaps in development”, she said. “If children are not supported they will already be behind when they start school.”
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) recognised the importance of taking action early, and developed an “Early Childhood Approach” to effectively support children aged up to six years old, who have disabilities or developmental delays. The scheme offers a range of support, from group sessions to complete service plans.
By acting early and accessing the right services, children may progress to a point of no longer being a NDIS participant.
What should parents look out for?
All children will grow at their own pace, but Kathryn Marrington, National Manager Speech Pathology at Goodstart Early Learning, says there are things you can look out for in your child’s development, that may suggest they need more support. For example, is your child:
- forming connections with others… and how?
- increasing in confidence to explore their surroundings through play?
- trying to communicate their thoughts and ideas in a range of different ways and using their entire body to learn and develop new skills?
- showing signs of frustration around communication or exploration?
- displaying emotional dysregulation such as withdrawal or distress?
How do families get started?
Kathryn says raising any concerns with your early learning centre team is a good first step.
“Early Learning partners are exactly that - they form the team around your child,” Kathryn explains.
“They come with a wealth of knowledge about childhood development but they also understand the unique attributes of your child.
“Every day they share experiences with your child during daily routines, rituals and caregiving moments. It is important to share information with your early learning partners so that any concerns can be unpacked together and your child’s strengths can be amplified in all environments.”