Supporting Families with Special Needs Children through Educational Healthcare

The range of additional needs is wide, from minor to sever, from temporary to permanent. It is quite common, that young children will arrive to nursery with difficulties that have not yet been understood. Additional needs identified early and supported prevents certain aspects of child’s development or behaviour to develop into persistent difficulty. On contrary, if we fail to attend the child’s emerging needs on time is very likely that their struggle will increase, and it may cause significant long-term damage, like developing anxiety, depression and mental health conditions.

In order for us, the ones who work with children, to be able to intervene and offer support to the children under our care on time, we should observe and track them for early signs that they may need additional support. Once we have identified in which area a child needs support with, we should start planning activities to promote learning and development in this area. For example, if there is a child with ADHD under our care, helpful strategies for support are making a routine by establishing rituals around meals, playtime and sleep time, for example, helping with setting up the table, helping with setting up outdoor activities, taking a comfort object for sleep time; physical activities and outdoor activities, following their interests, for example car hunt in the garden.

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To be able to intervene and support, we should be able to identify if a child requires additional support. Two years progress check is a strategy for identifying early educational needs in children.

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It is an assessment of the child’s abilities and strengths and usually is done by the age of 24-36 months. It could also highlight the area, where the child may need additional support. Once we have identified what the additional need of the child is, we should start planning different strategies for supporting the child. The first thing we may have to do is adopting the environment and our teaching strategies in order to meet those individual needs. Adopting the environment may include providing more space for physical exercise or provide ramps and unobstructed routes to the setting and the playground for wheelchair users.

Common assessment framework is a process for identifying the children with additional needs, assess those needs and provide them with the support needed by co-ordinating the process of partnership working with all professionals involved, parents and their children. CAF is a strategy for early intervention and prevention, it is a continuing process, not an event. It means, that children and their families receive support until they need that support. The shared assessment between the different agencies ensures that information about different strategies which can be used according the child’s individual needs are provided to them, their families, and their educators.

Educational healthcare needs assessment is required when the setting has provided different strategies to support the child with additional needs and their family over period of time, but the child shows little or no improvement. EHC plan is needed, when the setting can not provide the support needed to support child’s individual needs. Local authorities will provide Local offer for children in their area who have special educational needs and disabilities. The Local offer provides information for families and practitioners for the support available for children with special educational needs in the area and the practitioners and the families can benefit from advice and support for strategies used by professionals.

There are different strategies which could be used according to what are the child’s needs. For example, a strategy for supporting children with deafness and impaired hearing could be using sign language, like Makaton, flash cards. Hearing impairment can be treated with hearing aids, or operation, however until that happens, we should support those children by promoting their social skills and encouraging joining in small group activities like football, arts, and crafts, etc. At circle time singing using Makaton and encourage other children to learn Makaton too. It is very important, that these children feel accepted and valued, otherwise they may become withdrawn and have low self-esteem.

Promoting self-esteem and confidence is important for all children but is crucial for children with special educational needs to feel accepted and confident. Strategies for promoting self-esteem, helping children to feel that they belong, by celebrating everyone’s uniqueness and encouraging inclusion will boost children’s self-esteem.

Children develop and learn new skills with play, so planning exciting play activities for children, according their needs is a strategy for developing a particular skill. If a child with special educational need cannot take part of activities their peers are doing, we should amend these activities, so that everyone can take part. Further support the child and family can have from play therapy. Play therapies are good strategies, which help children to explore their emotions and develop social and communication skills.

In my setting we are provided with training relevant to our roles, responsibilities, and the needs of the children. Sometimes we may have to use behaviour management strategies to support children with additional needs. They can include implementing of routines and rules; giving short and understandable instructions, according child’s developmental stage and understanding; praising good behaviour and not giving attention to unwanted behaviour, because sometimes children display challenging behaviour in order to get our attention. If that is the case, make sure that we pay attention to the child’s wishes and feelings; Implementing ABC charts and making sure our colleagues are following the same strategies in order to stay consistent. Consistency is very important for the behaviour management strategies, that is why, we should work with the parents to apply the same strategies at home.

Children with additional needs often feel excluded, different and that could affect their confidence and self-esteem. Strategies for developing resilience could be helpful to improve their well-being. A strategy for developing resilience could be at circle time talking abut our differences and that we all have different abilities and we are better in some areas and not so good in others. For example, a child who is using a wheelchair may not be good in football, but they may be an amazing singer, for example. We should not try to hide the disability but talk openly about it and highlight their strengths.
In order children with special educational needs to develop social skills, we should plan activities for them, encouraging interaction, joint work and sustained shared thinking. Such activities could be small group working in creating a project, for example: Build a robot from recycled materials. This task will encourage children to interact with each other, will develop problem solving and sense of belonging, which is very important for children with additional needs and disabilities.

Strategies for developing communication skills could be learning sign language, one-to-one activities, flash cards and speech and language therapist.
Using Individual learning plan could be a strategy to support child’s additional needs and their family. It is a helpful tool for celebrating and demonstrating achievements for children with additional needs and also shows their strengths and theirs and their parents views. The individual learning plan is amended according child’s needs, the learning outcomes are adjusted to the child’s circumstances. How the parent’s feel resonates to their child’s well-being, that is why, strategies for supporting parents could be very useful. It could be organising workshops; organising meetings for parents with children with learning difficulties, showing them, that they are not alone; providing parents with enough information about local initiatives for supporting parents of children with special educational needs.

Transitions could be stressful for the children and their parents, and transitions are even more difficult for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Strategy for supporting children with additional needs and their families could be home visits prior the child attending the setting in order to get to know their key person and feel more at ease to see a familiar face, while at the setting. When is time the child to transition to another room in the setting, organising meetings with the child and their parents, the key person and the new key person to share information about child’s additional needs and how they could be supported by the new key person; short sessions with the child, the key person or the parents in the new room, to get familiar with the new environment, the key person and children in the room. If the transition is from early years setting to school, again, meetings with the teacher; sharing information with parents agreement about child’s additional needs and maintaining confidentiality; visits with the child and their parents to the new setting; inviting the new teacher to visit the child in the current setting; parents will need support and reassurance too, as they will have to build trust and relationships with a new person, whom they do not know yet.

The strategies I have used to provide support to the child and their family I have mentioned earlier were providing activities according his interest of enveloping objects; small groups circle times, as he was not confident where there were too many children present, one-to-one activities to work on his communication skills; outdoor activities following his energetic personality; sitting down at meal times with trusted adult; individual learning plan to celebrate his achievements; ABC chart; constant communication and information sharing with his mother about the food he is eating at home, his behaviour and communication.

In conclusion, there are plenty of strategies available to support children with additional needs and their parents. Strategies like Two years progress check, EYFS Profile at the end of 5 years of age, Local offers, and health care plans, are national strategies provided to the families and early years practitioners for supporting children with additional needs and their families.

Identifying the individual needs and adjusting the environment and recourses, planning activities in small groups, or by using sign language or flash cards, according child’s circumstances; activities, which can be adapted to support development of children with special educational needs or disability according their individual needs; pretend play and role models to boost their confidence and self-esteem; adjusted physical activities to support physical and social skills; behaviour management strategies; strategies for developing of communication skills, are strategies used in the every-day’s practice of early years practitioners. We should not wait for the formal assessments like Two years check or EYFS profile but use our skills and experience of different strategies to support children’s individual needs and seek support from other professionals when our strategies cannot provide the support needed.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Supporting Families with Special Needs Children through Educational Healthcare. (2022, Mar 26). Retrieved from

Supporting Families with Special Needs Children through Educational Healthcare essay
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