The term Early Childhood Special Education refers to the educational programs that are aimed at providing education to children who are facing problems in their normal growth or who have any sort of disability. This educational program makes sure that those special children get the opportunity and resources to continue to develop along with their peers. For this purpose, a special curriculum is prepared to assist them in their normal development. The educators are given training so that no child gets left behind. In the paragraphs below, we have answers to all the questions regarding early childhood special education.
What is Early Childhood Special Education?
Kids facing problems in their normal mental and physical growth are given a distinctive form of early childhood education. This form of early childhood education, which is aimed at helping solve the problems faced by young special children, is known as Early Childhood Special Education. Its main goal is to help children from birth to five years of age achieve normal mental as well as physical development. They try their best to eliminate all the abnormalities in the children under their custody. The program is designed not only to enhance their mental skills but also to boost their social skills.
Domains of Early Childhood Special Education
In order to make sure that all the needs of the children are satisfied, Early Childhood Special Education has a number of domains. These are as follows:
1. Mental Growth:
This domain has to take care of all the processes and skills that are somehow connected to the brain, e.g., thinking skills, memory, attention, etc.
2. Communication Skills:
This domain deals with developing the communication skills of the children so that they are able to express themselves without any hesitation.
This domain builds the socializing skills of the students. It also focuses on developing the skills of self-control, emotional regulation, and cooperation with peers and adults among children.
4. Physical Growth:
It deals with improving the physique of children under custody.
5. Adaptive Skills:
This domain helps the students in adjusting to new environments. This is of real importance as it prepares them for the environmental changes which disturb most children.
These are the domains that are available in early childhood special education. It can be clearly observed here that these domains when combined together, cover almost all the fields of life. In this way, this is the best opportunity for the children’s normal growth.
Types of Early Childhood in Special Education
Here in this paragraph, we have tried to elaborate the types of early childhood in special education. In this era, there are a number of programs that are being offered to meet the needs of special young minds. Here is a list of these programs:
1. Inclusive Classroom:
In such classrooms, children having disabilities or facing abnormalities in their normal growth, both mentally and physically, are being taught with the ones who have normal growth at the same time. They receive specialized attention from the educators in the same classroom.
2. Resource Room:
In this type of system, the children spend most of their time in the same shared classroom, but they’re given special attention by the educators in a separate room for a specified time in a day.
3. Specialized Preschools:
This includes the schools which are completely devoted to teaching young special children.
4. Home-Based Services:
In such methods, the special kid, soon after his birth, receives attention from the teacher in his/her own house. In this way, he receives the amount of attention that he needs for a normal understanding.
The programs mentioned above are just a glimpse of the types of programs that are offering early childhood special education. The choice of selecting the program for a child is mostly made after careful observation of his/ her needs.
Key Components of Early Childhood Special Education
No doubt, there are a large number of components for Early Childhood Special Education, but we have decided to mention only those components that are of significant importance. These are as follows:
● Unbiased evaluation and assessment.
● Separate attention to each student.
● High-Quality Instruction.
● Support and Interventions for each kid.
● Involvement of family.
● Collaboration among the teacher, students, and the parents.
● Transition Planning.
● The multiple disciplinary team approach.
The most important role in Early Childhood Special Education is played by these components.
1- Physical Development
We cannot ignore the importance of physical development in a child’s normal growth. Since the physique of a child greatly influences all of his skills, therefore, it is more than necessary. Below we have tried to enlighten different aspects concerning physical development in early childhood special education.
1. Gross Motor Skills: These skills comprise movements where the large muscle group of our body is somehow involved in producing it.
2. Fine Motor Skills: Movements that take place due to the activities of the smaller muscles, e.g., fingers and hands, are known as Fine Motor Skills. It is aimed to provide students with the basic skills of grasping something, holding something, and building hand and eye coordination.
3. Sensory Integration: It means the way our brain responds to the sensory input. This is included here to enable the students to understand the basic sensory inputs.
4. Adaptive Physical Education: It is obvious that children with disabilities badly need adaptive skills to be able to adapt to their environment, and for this purpose, Adaptive Physical Education was introduced.
5. Health: It is said that a healthy body has a healthy mind. So, keeping this in view, for a child to have normal cognitive development, it is necessary to have a healthy body. For this purpose, the children are taught in such a way that they learn the basic factors, e.g., Nutrition, personal hygiene, safety, etc.
By emphasizing the above-mentioned factors, the teachers want to prepare the students for all the expected physical challenges that they might face in the near future.
2- Emotional Development
Emotional development is another factor that cannot be ignored when looking after a child who has a disability or is facing problems in normal growth. Here is a list of factors involved in the emotional development of the children.
● Social-Emotional Skills
● Emotional Expression
● Positive Behavior Support
● Social Skills
● Peer Interaction
● Emotional Support
● Coping Methodologies
All of these aspects are taken care of by the educators to ensure that the students get normal emotional development. This signifies the importance of emotional well-being in children.
3- Intellectual Development
The most important aspect of children’s life that is to be taken care of by educators is intellectual development which is mainly focused on improving their mental skills, thinking capabilities, and, most importantly, their problem-solving skills. The aspects of intellectual development are as follows:
● Child-Centered Instructions.
● Development of languages.
● Literacy Development.
● Thinking Critically.
● Problem Solving Skills.
● Development of Concepts.
● Assistive Technology.
4- Social Development
To enhance the socializing skills of the children and improve their cooperation and interaction skills, educators are responsible for ensuring normal social development in the children. Aspects of social development are as follows:
● Social Skills
● Interaction with friends and family.
● Development of language.
● Development of communication skills.
● The regulation of emotions.
● Resolving conflicts.
● Social Play.
● Cooperative Learning.
The above-mentioned aspects are taken care of in order to ensure the normal social development of children. It should be noted that each aspect has been chosen in such a way that it supports the other ones. When these factors are combined together, they give rise to the most suitable plan for developing the social life of a child. These aspects, when worked upon, provide the best setting for the social development of the children.
Roles of Educators in Special Education
The role played by Early Childhood Special Education in ensuring normal growth for children having disabilities or facing any sort of abnormality in their development cannot be ignored. The early childhood special education curriculum is crafted to support normal growth for children with abnormalities in all aspects and manners. Now we shall discuss the responsibilities and the roles of the teachers defined by the national council in early childhood special education. There are as follows:
● Individualized Instruction:
The most basic responsibility of an educator in Early Childhood Special Education is to give special attention to each child. This is because of the fact that it is the right of each child to be treated according to their unique needs. To achieve this, the curriculum is crafted in the same manner, which makes it possible for the educator to give time to each student.
● Evaluation and Assessment:
It is the duty of educators in Early Childhood Special Education to ensure that the skills that are being taught to the students are being assessed regularly after a specific time period. This evaluation will make sure that the children are learning what the teachers are teaching them. For assessment, a number of techniques are being used by educators.
● Collaborative Education Plan:
This is the most important duty of the teachers as it ensures that there exists a solid foundation of collaboration among the educators and the families of the students. In order to achieve this, the teachers use a number of skills such as evidence-based, visual aids, and multi-sensory approaches to involve children in activities.
● Teaching Techniques:
A number of teaching methods have been introduced in this modern era of technology. Traditionally, teachers used chalk and a blackboard, but now after the advancement of technology, the teachers are given the latest tools to ensure that the children are getting what they are being taught. For this purpose, visual as well as hearing aids are being used.
● Differentiation and Accommodations:
It is the duty of educators to ensure that the instructions are variable according to the needs of the students that are studying in Early Childhood Special Education. It is the duty of educators to ensure that accommodations can be made for supporting access to curriculum, adapting materials, and managing instructional techniques depending upon the needs.
● Social Support:
It is also the duty of the teacher to help the students in socializing and interacting with other people around them. For the development of social cooperation, the teachers take steps that ensure that the children understand what social life is and how to live it in the right manner.
● Emotional Support:
It is also the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the children understand what emotions are. In this regard, they are also taught how to express certain emotions without offending anybody in their surroundings.
It is the duty of the teacher to create an environment in which there is a sense of collaboration between the teacher and the parents of the students. In this way, the teachers are able to teach the students in the most effective manner. This also enables them to understand the student’s background, making it easier for them to teach the students.
What’s the purpose of understanding emotions when you can’t even express them? In order to help the students in expressing their emotions, the educators focus on improving the student’s communication skills. It only helps them in expressing their feelings, but they can also express their ideas through it.
● Transition Planning:
The teachers also play a vital role when the child is moving from early interventions to preschool or from Early Childhood Special Education to Kindergarten. For this purpose, the teachers conduct meetings that are aimed at making the right decisions for the students. They deeply analyze the child’s background and it’s academic performance in order to make the right decision for him/her.
After taking a look at these roles of educators, we can easily say that the educators are ones who, in fact, are responsible for the development of each child’s entire life. They’re involved in almost all aspects of the child’s life.
This article mainly focuses on Early Childhood Special Education. We have given an overview of what ECSE is, the domains of the ECSE, the types of the ECSE, and the roles of the teacher in this regard.