The recent case of a child in a wheelchair injured from an alleged fall down steps at a kindergarten open during the school holidays cannot be commented on while investigation is underway. However, the case must also raise questions concerning how hazards for children in wheelchairs are managed and what education support worker assistance is available to children and during the school holidays. The onus is on the Ministry of Education to improve access to early intervention services, provide education support worker assistance for the hours that children attend, and ensure that teachers are not left struggling to cope. See the new article on supporting children with additional needs and help for teachers.
Following this case, we hope we do not see teachers and services deciding that the risks to themselves of accepting children with additional needs are too high. Parents with children with additional needs can struggle as it is to find a service and to know that support will be in place to ensure their child will be safe and thrive in their learning.
Inclusion begins with something as simple as letting parents and children know through the design of your building that they are welcome - for example is there a step making wheelchair access impossible or is there a lip in the doorway preventing a person from easily wheeling into the building without someone giving them a push? Once inside the building does the layout allow for easy movement or are there chairs and tables in the way and toys scattered on the floor?
1. Is the 20-Hour ECE funding scheme working well for your service?
There is a poll running to see if there needs to be changes to the scheme or not.
2. Reduce the risk of children choking on food
Until at least 3 years and up to 5 years when children have their full set of molar teeth, do not provide foods that health professionals (the Ministry of Health, Plunket, and international experts) have identified to be a high choking risk unless the texture has been altered to reduce the risk.
High risk foods include: peanuts, raw apple, raw carrot, sausages, grapes and popcorn.
The risk of choking can be reduced by cooking, mashing, and grating. For example, give the infant or toddler stewed apple instead of a slice of raw apple. Taking the skin off the apple may help to make it safer but it remains a choking hazard since small hard bits can get stuck in a child's throat.
3. Disabled, but not really so different - why inclusion benefits every child and their learning
When our daughter, Sarah, was very young, we used to visit our friend Micheline who uses a wheelchair. Her daughter, Lucy, who is just older than Sarah, could not walk and Sarah used to - intuitively - get down on her hands and knees and crawl around with Lucy. Fast forward a few years to a time when they were both in their respective primary schools; when we visited Micheline, a special treat for Sarah was to stand on the platform at the back of Lucy's electric wheelchair as the two of them whizzed to the local shops.
Fortunately Micheline is a committed fighter for inclusion, which not only meant that Lucy got to stay in mainstream provision right until school-leaving age (rather than going to a segregated school for disabled children – this was still radical in the 1980s when Lucy was growing up) but also that all her friends lived in the local community. And, as an offshoot, all those friends got the opportunity to learn that some children and adults have an impairment and that’s just part of life.
Now, I would say this is not the everyday kind of learning that children pick up at school. It’s not on the school curriculum – but what Sarah learned from being friends with Lucy was the profound lesson that we may be different in abilities or appearance, but we are the same underneath in that we are all human. Not literacy or numeracy, but certainly as important, if not more so.
4. A selection of early intervention and health guidance and discussions
- Early Intervention in Aotearoa New Zealand: Services and Challenges by Kathleen Liberty. This paper describes the bicultural model of early intervention in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the challenges facing the delivery of effective services. The early intervention system is inclusive of culturally different concepts of development, family, disability, wellbeing, risk, prevention and intervention, as well as Kaupapa Māori and Western science evidence-based practices. Service frameworks emphasise culturally appropriate interactions with children and families. However, challenges to improve services exist. Population growth and increasing prevalence of needs associated with early intervention challenge the existing coverage of services. New needs identification systems are highlighting significant gaps between the number of children likely to require early intervention and the number receiving services
- Perceptions of inclusive early intervention by Lesley Dunn. This paper describes research into the perceptions of parents, early childhood centre teachers, speech-language therapists, early intervention teachers, and education support workers about their shared task in supporting children on early intervention programmes at three early childhood centres. An overall conclusion of the study was that a greater degree of shared discussion among the parties would have enhanced their work.
- Research study: Disabled by the discourse: some impacts of normalising mechanisms in education and society on the lives of disabled children and their families by Bernadette Macartney. Excerpts of data are used to demonstrate ways in which individualised and deficit views of disability impact on the construction of the child and their family. The implications of this for disabled children’s learning, participation and rights to an inclusive education are discussed.
- How adults and environments contribute to children's positive or negative understandings and experiences of disability in early childhood settings by Karen Turnock, Diane Gordon-Burns, Kerry Purdue, Benita Rarere-Briggs and Robyn Stark. In this paper, we present accounts of children's experiences and understandings of disability, inclusion and exclusion in early childhood settings. In particular, we focus on how adults and environments contributed to children forming positive or negative constructions of disability, and the implications of this for inclusion. We then suggest some strategies or ideas for further dialogue that may help early childhood practitioners and other adults develop more inclusive early childhood settings and communities, with a particular emphasis on critical reflection of values and beliefs.
5. Funding for all teachers in ECE to be paid on par with their kindergarten and primary peers ♥
The first thing you can do is sign the petition that will go to Parliament. Many of you have already done this. Thank you. Please also share this with colleagues and families and ask for their support of the petition. Go to: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/p/ece-parity
The ECE Pay Parity Book is available for everyone. It includes pay scales, funding rates, explanations on what the government will get out of funding pay parity, can we count on the Government Strategic Plan or not to deliver pay parity, the difference to teacher pay other government policies might have, and much more.
Then there are postcards for you to send to the Minister of Education and to other parties’ ECE spokespeople. These and other resources are available at the Pay Parity Campaign page here
We will keep you posted as things develop.
Best regards from your pay parity steering group,
Sarah, Karen and David
6. Tender and funding opportunities
The Ministry of Education is seeking to appoint a provider to deliver the Pasifika Early Literacy Project (PELP) and the Realm Languages Project. The PELP and the Realm Languages Project help to support the early language and literacy learning of Pacific children in early learning services (ECE) so they have a smooth transition into English-medium classrooms. Both projects focus on the utilisation of Pasifika Dual Language resources for Pacific children at school and at home and work with ECE’s/schools, teachers, and families with Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan and Tongan students, to support young Pacific children and teachers in classrooms with Pacific heritage languages to connect their linguistic and cultural knowledge in the schooling environment. This request seeks a specialised and expert provider to work with 10 early childhood services and 10 primary schools per year over four years to deliver projects in three regions - Auckland, South Waikato and Wellington. For a copy of the RFP or further information contact Nigel Richardson, Early learning and achievement section, Wellington MOE. Closing date for applications Fri 15 Nov 2019.
See our website at www.childforum.com for more early childhood information, research, and guidance.
For member access as an individual join here: https://www.childforum.com/join-childforum/individual-plan.html or to join your ECE service organisation go here: https://www.childforum.com/join-childforum/early-childhood-service.html
No responsibility is taken for any errors. If you spot an error please inform us so that it can be corrected.