Preschool education is now considered as very important for a child’s scholastic success. “At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And more important, they learn how to socialize – get along with other children, share and contribute to circle time.” Says Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D, Dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education. These skills are an important basis for what children will learn in Kindergarten and beyond.
Preschool education provides the child with an opportunity to start a lifelong love of learning. With the use of age-appropriate materials and objectives, we can help the child to practice skills, lay the framework for more advanced learning, and most importantly discover that learning is fun. The motivation to learn is an important factor in school success.
Early identification and intervention is vital and there are many indicators to suggest that the essential foundation skills are not being established. In many cases, it becomes apparent, prior to a year when the child is in the Pre-primary years and beginning to learn the fundamental skills required for future learning.
If one feels that their child is having difficulty in learning, the first step is to talk with the classroom teacher. To identify child’s learning needs, the teacher may
- talk with the child
- observe the child during classroom activities
- analyse the child’s class work
- assess the child’s abilities in areas such as mathematics, reading, writing and so on
As a parent, one can also gather information that may be useful in the assessment process. This information could also include medical reports and observations one has made about the child’s learning needs and recent behavioural changes outside the school, if any.
After taking these steps in assessing a student’s needs, the teacher, in consultation with the parents, may decide whether or not a referral to a specialist for support or further assessment is necessary. Written parental consent is recommended before any referral to other teaching or clinical resources within the school is made. Each school has different assessment procedures, so talk to the child’s teacher or the school principal about what kind of assessment or referral will take place and how long it will take.
Identification begins with the keen observation by teachers in school and parents at home. Parents and teachers play an important role in identifying key signs of learning and behaviour difficulties. It is vital to look at the consistency and frequency of the behaviour and learning difficulties. It is important to know the onset of such behaviour and also the frequency of the same.
Different professionals are qualified to assess different areas of the child’s development. For example, a psychologist assesses a child’s cognitive ability or potential. A classroom teacher or resource teacher can assess the child’s learning skills. A variety of assessment tools may be used to determine a child’s learning, cognitive, social, emotional, communication or behavioural development or needs. Some assessment tools include both parents and teachers to ensure that the information gathered accurately reflects the child.
An assessment may be done for the following reasons:
- To find out whether the child has a special learning need.
- To identify child’s current capabilities, skills, and needs.
- To find out how those special learning needs affect child’s ability to
learn and function in school.
- To identify appropriate programming and services that will meet the child’s
Following criteria can be used to identify the learning or behavioural issues if any:
- Difficulty to hold a book correctly and turn the pages front to back
- Difficulty to know some upper and lowercase letters and understand the letters for sounds
- Difficulty to identify his/her name
- Difficulty to hold a crayon
- Doesn’t scribble
- Inappropriate pressure on the crayon/pencil
Language Development –
- Vocabulary less than 2, 0000- 4, 0000 words
- Difficulty to make complex sentences (6-7 words)
- Lack of inquisitiveness
- Difficulty to name colours and shapes
- Unable to recite a poem or story on his/her own
Physical Development –
- Difficulty to walk heel to toe and run
- May not be able to climb stairs
- Difficulty throwing/ catching/ kicking a ball
- Difficulty to stand on one foot for four or five seconds
- Unable to draw simple shapes, use scissors and string beads
- Difficulty dressing, undressing and brushing teeth
Cognitive Development –
- Unable to tell the age and address
- Lower attention span
- Difficulty identifying the differences/ similarities between two objects
Social and Emotional Development –
- Difficulty to follow simple rules
- May not initiate play with others
- Doesn’t enjoy imaginative play
- Poor self-confidence and independence
In conclusion, every child learns in a different way. Thus above areas need to be observed with the consent of other caregivers at home and school. Also, the consistency and frequency of the above needs to be considered. The ability to identify these problems during the first 4 years of life provides the unique opportunity to intervene as early as possible and to prevent more severe problems from occurring in early childhood and later in life.
Mrs. Vaishnavi Sawant: Senior Counselling Psychologist,Lodha World School
Currently working in Lodha World School as a senior counselling psychologist. Has worked as a lecturer in K.V. Pendharkar College for the subject of Psychology. Has worked as senior counselling psychologist in Child Rehabilitation Centre – Testing and assessment, counselling sessions with children and parents, workshops and seminars. Was a Consultant and Counselling Psychologist in Asmita Special School. Has persued P.G.D.C – Prafulta Psychological Services, Don Bosco Matunga. Presented a research paper on Creativity and Education at National Psychological Association Pondicherry 2017-18. Has conducted individual workshops and seminars in schools and colleges for Teach for India (Initiative by Times of India). Currently perusing B.Ed. course.