Early intervention/early childhood special education (EI/ECSE) is a specialized profession in the early childhood education (ECE) field, which now has its own set of professional standards. The Division for Early Childhood of the Council of Exceptional Children, the leading professional organization in EI/ECSE, spearheaded efforts to develop the EI/ECSE standards. These standards were developed to address the preparation of special educators working with children from birth through age 8, something which was lacking in the field. The standards align with existing special educator K-12 standards to promote a continuum of special education services.
The EI/ECSE standards encourage high-quality special educator preparation, leading to high-quality services, and in turn, better outcomes for children and families. While the standards themselves are designed for use in institutions of higher education to prepare EI/ECSE professionals entering the field, it is crucial that these standards also are utilized in professional development activities as well as individual professional practices. In this blog series, we discuss each standard, suggest questions for reflection, and provide tips and resources that professionals can use to ensure their practices align with the EI/ECSE standards.
Standard 1: Child Development and Early Learning
Professionals who work with children who have varying needs may become accustomed to atypical development. It is important to remember the many factors that can influence child development so we can provide the needed for individual children and their families.
|1.1||Understand theory and philosophies of early learning and development||
|1.2||Apply knowledge of normative development, individual differences, and families’ diversity to support children||
|1.3||Apply knowledge of biological and environmental factors that support or constrain child learning and development||
|1.4||Understand characteristics, etiologies, and individual differences across varying abilities||
Resources to enhance your knowledge related to Standard 1:
- A review of select child development theories:
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory
Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory
- Information about child development milestones:
CDC Learn the Signs Act Early
- Information about common disabilities
CDC Developmental Disabilities
CDC Intellectual Disabilities
Tips for improving your practices related to Standard 1:
- Seek out continuing education related to atypical and typical development.
- When planning interventions and assessments for children, consider a variety of contextual factors (e.g., environmental, sociocultural, linguistic, economic) that may influence the child’s support needs and behaviors.
- Utilize and refer families to local resources that support children with delays and disabilities and/or families as needed.
- Join a learning community (e.g., Echo Autism), advocacy group (e.g., National Down Syndrome Society), or volunteer with a disability organization (e.g., Young Athletes Special Olympics) to gain experience and knowledge about disabilities outside your area(s) of expertise.
Children with intense needs may reach some developmental milestones slower than their peers. Therefore, professionals working with this population may consider the following strategies.
Tips for Supporting Development of Children with Intensive Needs
- When discussing milestones with families and other team members, focus on what comes next (i.e., the developmental sequence), rather than specific ages that children typically reach skills.
- When sharing assessment results, highlight what the child does well rather than focusing on deficit areas.
- Create obtainable, short-terms goals for children and share progress with the whole team.
- Brainstorm multiple opportunities throughout the child’s day (across settings) that they can work toward their goals and share these ideas with all members of the team.