Early intervention are programs that are designed for young children who are below grade three or those children falling in the age brackets of three years and eight years. These programs are usually designed to help children who seem to lag behind their peers at school in such areas as reading skills which are likely to persist into adulthood. If such cases of children who appear to lag behind their peers in reading are not assisted early enough then it can affect their future as adults and hinder their career aspirations and expectations.
While research findings show that the early ages of between four to six years are ideal to introduce children to reading, early interventions in the first grade which is the approximate age proposed by the scientists has been shown to play significant role in preventing reading problems for most children and as such reduce reading disabilities (Mathes,2001. Pungur,2004). As we all know and as presented by our modern society the future of today’s children is closely linked to and depends on how well they learn.
Any problem that children experience in learning has it’s beginning In the earliest weeks in school and children who fail to learn to read have a high probability of remaining poor readers throughout school life. Therefore helping children to learn to read through the early intervention programs is an important task in public education since reading crisis and low literacy skills are linked to poverty that can have a big impact on the nation.
The best suited people who can control such incidences from happening are educators if they act early by identifying those children who are at risk and provide high quality intervention before failure occurs. This intervention is most effective when it occurs as early as first grade since it prevents the learner from continuing to higher grade3s and later on fail in life Demographics This refers to the size, structure and distribution of the population the participated in the early intervention program by race and economic status of their families.
According to a study done on national early intervention in Georgia State it was found that there were variations in the age that children enrolled in the program. Statistics show that there existed racial variations among the children. The main participants were African American families, Hispanic and White families. The study showed that 48% of the children in the program were black while 14% were Hispanic.
Families play a component part in the intervention program and as such, it was important for the study to consider the economic status as well as the structure of the families from which the children who enrolled in the early intervention program came from. This study revealed that majority of the families were poor or were found to be economically disadvantaged. The level of poverty was determined by the annual income of the families of which 27% were found to have less than $15000 per year as the income.
One out four families also had to receive government support in terms of welfare payments or food stamps to supplement their needs. About the level of education of the parents it was also considered since the level parental level of education play a significant role in determining the social economic status of the family. It also determined the employment opportunities the parent will have and consequently the type of live the children will have at home. About 76% of the mothers with children in the program did not have educational level beyond high school while only 23% had bachelors level and above.
The age of the parents was also considered and the study revealed that about 71% of the mothers were between the age of 20-35 years when the children were born. Instruments Used. The instruments that the research cited to have used were varied however it should be noted that the instruments used should as much as possible be appropriate for the child. This is with regard to the child’s culture and abilities. Where the questionnaires are used to get data and to assess children’s progress, if need be there should be interpreters who will help the children in understanding and answering the questions.
The professionals conducting the assessment should also be skilled and knowledgeable in all matters to do with culture and assessment of children so that they may do a good job. Questionnaires are good because when used because they give the respondent time to reflect on the questions asked and respond to them appropriately. The other types of instruments that are used in the early intervention program for children are tape recorders and translators. These instruments are very effective for use with the young children since the children will find them to be interesting and thus be willing and co operative in the program.
They are most useful in the reading intervention since the tape recorder can store the information the children give especially if they were reading some words. It is the actual training that can be recorded and later used if any references are required. These instruments are both valid and reliable in that they will measure what they are supposed to measure and will always yield the same results without any alterations. The questionnaires are what may compromise the validity and reliability of the research findings especially when used by the children who may need the guidance of an adult.
Method used According to the case of early intervention there are different models that can be used in the early intervention of reading problems in the first grade. The three tier model is the most effective in reducing reading problems in children. This is achieved by providing intensive early early intervention for children at risk of reading difficulty. Here the teachers are encouraged to assume more responsibility and initiative to provide effective instruction to students who are found to have a lot of struggles when learning to read(Mathes,2001)
When following this model the teacher divides the learners into three tiers and the starts with the first tier. Here in this teir the core is instruction with the teacher using high quality reading program which very much improved and enriched by use of intervention strategies. This usually forms the beginning of the intervention program where the whole class is involved in the quality instruction. If it emerges that there are learners with reading difficulties after the quality classroom instruction, then the teacher design for more intense instructions but this time in small groups.
Then the teacher goes through the planned instruction with the carefully constituted groups. If the learners are still found to be having more difficulties in reading they are taken into the third tier which is the special education setting. Under this setting the intervention increases in intensity and duration. Quality classroom instruction stands out as the best strategy to out doing learning failure in children in the primary grade(cited from snow 1998). As such the teir model and it’s emphasis in quality classroom instruction takes the lead.
From the Georgian study on early intervention program we get other methods widely applied in the intervention programs. The main concern of this program was to address achievement gaps in the learners. This study has revealed five delivery models as recommended by the Georgian Department of Education which included ; Augmented, Reduced class size, Self contained,Pull out and Reading recovery models. The Augmented delivery method usually incorporates early intervention program in the regular classroom but is handled by more certified teachers in order to reduce the teacher/student ratio.
This ensures that the learners receive quality instruction from the teacher as they get the intervention services. The is only different from the reduced class size delivery model in one significant way ; as the number of pupils requiring early intervention increases the size of the class reduces to ensure that the teacher handles less and less learners. In the self contained model the learners requiring early intervention are placed in their own class with a certified teacher and the main emphasis is on instruction so as to achieve increased academic achievement.
When using the pull out delivery model one teacher only handles 14 students while any other is pulled out into another class to receive instruction from another teacher. Finally the reading recovery model handles learners in segments each lasting for 30 minutes and continues for 45 days. However it is important to note that it is good to use a combination of methods so as to achieve the best results. This is to mean that methodology may vary but it should aim at producing the best results. Expected outcomes.
Having looked at the various methodology that can be used in the delivery of early intervention programs, it is important to highlight a number of the expected results. To begin with early reading intervention makes a big difference in accelerating the rate of learners at risk of reading failure(cited from Taylor,2000) It is expected that after Implementing quality intervention programs the rate of learners struggling to read will drop in the schools this is expected to reduce the number of children suffering from reading failure by a clear two thirds.
This will be as a result of raised phonemic awareness in the learners. They are also expected to show higher reading levels as well as to develop independence in reading after successfully going through the intervention program. The learners are not expected to be too dependent on adults in their school work but to show own initiative and achieve better grades in academic work. The learners at risk are expected to show masterly of grade level content material and never to lag behind their colleagues in class.
This is because they will have achieved grade level standard. This early intervention programs are also expected to reduce retention rates in school where learners used to take so much time in the school. In considering the other factors it was revealed that in Georgia children who began intervention early came from families with less income and the mothers had lower levels of education. Poverty was a key factor that exposed many children to risk since the studies revealed that majority of the at risk children came from poor families.
Conclusions and recommendations One of the critical truths concluded from the study was that early interventions especially in the first grade goes along way in preventing most problems for young children especially those problems associated with reading disabilities in children. It also cuts so much on wastage in public expenditure on education. This is because early intervention ensures that learners benefit from the educational experiences they go through in school and end up making better use of the skills they acquire.
They get employed and lead better lives and as such fight poverty in the society, this makes the government investment in education worth. This benefits the individual as well as the society. The effectiveness of the early intervention program as earlier noted depends on the delivery model used. This therefore means that better and effective delivery methods should be set up so as to achieve the best results from this programs. I would recommend that a combination of the models already discussed in this paper be utilized in our school in order to realize more benefits from these programs.
As already presented the essential elements of an effective intervention program should always be considered. These elements include supplemental instruction which is both quality and highly guided by the teacher to be used. Monitoring and assessment to know the progress made should be carried out periodically. Again a paraprofessional approach should be adopted to involve different people in the programs and as such make the program more effective and beneficial to the recipients.
References Desee, J. (2003) The Importance of Early Intervention. Washing:Sage Publishers Lakien,A. (2004) Early Intervention Programs and Their Effects to Children. New York:Peter H Wayden Johnson, D . A . Report on Survey Data Collected on Early Intervention Programs: Georgia Department of Education, Policy Division. February 2004. Mathes, P. G. .The Case of Early Intervention In Reading. Retrieved 2nd October 2008, from http://www. sraonline. com/download/research/pdf