Early Childcare Assistant

Identifying Learning Disabilities: A Look for Students in Early Childcare Assistant College

January 22, 2021

Early childcare assistants are incredibly important in childcare centres and institutions. Working together with other staff, they help to create a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow in, encouraging their social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. 

As childcare assistants directly interact with children, they are in a prime position to spot any potential signs that might indicate developmental delays or disabilities, and relay important information to others. Early identification of these developmental problems is a key factor in helping children. Here are some things to keep an eye out for as an early childcare assistant. 

Recognizing Speech and Language Difficulties at an Early Stage

One of the common ways of catching a learning disability is to observe a child’s speech and language use as they interact with others. Examples of speech and language difficulties include: mixed word order in sentences, difficulty learning songs or nursery rhymes, tendencies to repeat general words instead of using more specific ones (such as using the word “thing” for most objects), unusually slow speech, or trouble responding to “why” questions. 

That said, keep in mind that stuttering and speech impediments might also develop in children at a young age, which doesn’t necessarily indicate a learning difficulty.

Recognizing speech and language difficulties at an early age in children can also help to identify learning disabilities

Monitoring Children’s Growth and Progress After Early Childcare Assistant College

Part of your early childcare assistant college training will include understanding how to complete anecdotal reports, as well as how to fill out observation and developmental checklists. Learning this important task will help you to monitor the growth and progress of children in your care. 

Signs to look out for in young children as possible indicators of some motor difficulties include: constant clumsiness, poor balance, trouble managing small objects (e.g. tying shoes or working buttons), or unusual struggles related to eye-hand coordination (such as in tracing or copying images). Cognition skills can be monitored by testing a child’s memory, such as the ability to memorize simple words or daily routines, as well as their understanding of basic concepts—like size or shape—and patterns, like simple counting. Catching these difficulties is a crucial step to making sure children receive the support they need.  

Tracking motor and cognition skills through educational toys is a good way to test for learning disabilities in young children


Studying Children’s Attention and Social Behaviour 

In addition to tracking children’s performance, childcare assistants should regularly observe children’s attention and social behaviour. Those training to complete their early childcare assistant diploma will be interested to know that both aspects can serve in discovering telltale signs of a learning struggle. 

For instance, if a child is easily distracted or hyperactive, they could be experiencing symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Impulsivity and a general difficulty to adapt to new routines are also signs that should be carefully assessed. Additionally, children who have trouble following directions or interacting with others should not be overlooked. Frequent temper tantrums and displays of frustration can also be a sign of underlying learning difficulties, and may need further assessment from the wider early childhood education team.

As an early childcare assistant, you’ll be able to make a big difference in the development of young children. Learning disabilities are not easily identified, requiring close coordination with other members of the early education team, and often other health professionals. Understanding some of the indicators can be helpful for working together with colleagues to ensure the children who do need support receive early intervention measures to overcome their struggles more effectively. 

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