While all children develop and grow at their own pace, some may need extra help or support to stimulate and encourage their development. That is why we talk about early care, a network of services and supports established so that an individual child with a developmental alteration can obtain the necessary help and avoid the negative effects on his growth. This support is made up of different disciplines in the field of health, education and social intervention.
The sooner developmental delays and special needs are identified, the sooner children can begin to receive appropriate and consistent services to help them grow and prosper.
In this post, we will see what early care in education is and its importance in child development. To do this, more and more professionals are being trained in this area, taking specialized training such as the Master in Early Care .
WHAT IS EARLY CARE?
Before looking at the role of early childhood education, it is important to define what it is and mention some of the disciplines that are included.
According to the White Book on Early Care, prepared by the State Federation of Associations of Early Care Professionals, early care is recognized as a set of actions, aimed at the child population from 0 to 6 years old, which are oriented towards prevention and assistance intervention for children with disabilities. It is based on various scientific disciplines, such as pediatrics, neurology, psychology, pedagogy, physiotherapy and linguistics.
It is important to clarify that early care is not just a system of rehabilitation or stimulation of the child but a set of measures that allow integration in their environment – in social situations, at home and in the classroom.
EXAMPLES OF EARLY CARE
There are many types of intervention to meet the needs of each child. For example, a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will need different support than a child with autism. Here are some examples of the services that may be available:
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Counseling and psychological services
- Sensory integration therapy
- Alternative learning methods
EARLY CARE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND PRIMARY EDUCATION
After home, school is the ideal place to carry out an early care plan. Preschoolers use play as their first language. Several studies have shown that through games, children develop their senses, acquire new skills, and interact with other people. That is why play and toys are essential and in an early attention plan in the classroom.
Through play and toys, you can achieve goals such as:
- Help the child acquire new behaviors and the greatest possible functionality in all areas of development.
- Get the most active participation from the child
- Improve attention, motivation and consequences throughout the learning process.
In special education , all tasks in the classroom are based on improving various areas of learning during the most important years for the child in terms of development (gross-motor, fine-motor, language and social-emotional).
These are some examples of activities and games to develop each area:
- Socio-emotional area: Group games with rules and turns, answering questions, simple household tasks and practicing the expression of emotions.
- Language area: Sing, make up stories, read books, and dramatizations.
- Fine-motor area: Cut out, build with cubes and similar objectives, fold, draw lines and circles.
- Gross-motor area: Dancing with coordinated movements, bouncing balls, jumping with alternating feet and jumping in one place.
THE BENEFITS OF EARLY CARE
As we have already seen, early care is important to ensure that children with developmental disorders can live normal lives thanks to the set of measures that are taken. The benefits include improvements in self-esteem, the maximum degree of autonomy possible, the acquisition of new skills and the recognition of individuality.
But early care has advantages not only for the child, but also for his family. The sooner developmental disorders are identified and the early care plan started, families also see benefits such as their active participation in the process, improvements in their well-being, and the cooperation of the various teams involved.
It can be said that early care responds to the child’s first educational needs during the most important time in his learning process. Starting interventions, be it physical therapy or speech therapy, between the ages of 0 to 6 can prevent more serious problems later in life.