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When planning lessons and activities for children we must ensure that all individual needs are met. To be able to do this firstly we need to look at factors which may affect their development or needs.
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Affecting factors may include stress, disability, illness, birth defects or home environment. It will be the role of the child’s key worker to evaluate individual children and assess their needs and help them overcome or resolve any issues which may be affecting their development or growth. These observations are best done during the child’s free time when they are more relaxed and not feeling pressured. We can learn a lot when a child is doing a task they enjoy or are playing. Once our observations have been made we can use our findings to plan future activities. Individual observations and assessments need to be made for each child as development varies in all children.
Activities need to be based on what the child is able to achieve and must not be too hard for them to complete as they will feel pressured and it may affect their confidence. We must also make sure that the activities are not too easy as the child will not feel fully stimulated and may become bored. Using activities based around a child’s likes or interests is a great way to get them interested and engaged.
Differentiation must also be used when trying to meet individual needs, including specialist equipment when needed, visual aids, adult interaction and learning aids when conducting a group activity will ensure that all of the children can be included. Using differentiation will also ensure that all children can meet the overall aim of the group task despite this being done in different ways.
When planning for individual needs of children we must make sure we include the practice of equal opportunities. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child state ‘All children have the right to have their views and opinions listened to.’ By ensuring we take this into account we can work with the child and plan activities based on things they enjoy and include their own culture or beliefs. The individual schools ‘Equal Opportunities Policy’ must also be read and followed to make sure all children and their families feel included, it will also help the children to refine their own identities.
If we follow all of the above plans and ensure that each child is individually assessed then we can make sure that they are reaching all of their goals and aims and are fully happy and stimulated in the tasks that they are undertaking, this will also aid the development and growth of the child both individually and within a group.
As well as making sure that all children’s individual needs are met we must also make sure that we are not discriminating against any of our children. Discrimination occurs when an individual or group of children are treated less favourably than others. This may be due to gender, disabilities, faith, race, culture, physical appearance or even social class. If a child does feel discriminated against then this could result in them becoming withdrawn and it may cause development delays. According to the Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) ‘… children have a right, spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a child, to provisions which enable them to develop their personalities, talents and abilities irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties, disability or gender.’ (EYFS)
There are several ways in which we can make sure that we are including all children in all of our activities and the first step in doing this would be to read through the Equality Act 2010. This act protects children from discrimination right through their school life up to the age of eighteen. The Act states ‘….it is unlawful for a school to discriminate against a pupil or prospective pupil by treating them less favourably…’ (Equality Act 2010). This Act replaced nine major Acts of Parliament and almost one hundred sets of regulations. The Act covers all schools in England and Wales and schools managed by Education Authorities in Scotland. Whilst reading through the Act we learn a lot more about how equality can be given in schools and a more defined description as to what counts as equality.
As well as making ourselves knowledgeable in this Act there are also several things that we can introduce into the school and classroom setting. Welcome signs in a variety of languages and not just English would be a great idea as it shows before entering the school that all nationalities are welcome. The learning of spoken greetings for different nationalities would also make the school and staff come across as more friendly and approachable.
Different cultures and faiths celebrate all different festivals and celebrations throughout the year and by doing entire class projects on these we would not only be benefiting the individual students from the religions but we would also be educating the whole class. The inclusion of toys and games from around the world is another good way to teach about different ways of life.
We must also make sure when planning lessons and activities that we include topics which don’t just discuss our own beliefs and preferences as this too would be portrayed as being prejudice to those students whose beliefs were different. According to Albert Bandura ‘…behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning.’ (Albert Bandura 1977). Therefore if we as key workers are seen to be showing and exploring new and different cultures and ways of playing then it will also encourage the children to explore these too.
The inclusion of disabled children must also be considered when planning and we must make sure that the correct provisions are in place, such as ramps for wheelchair users and items such as large print cards and sheets for those visually impaired children, visual aids and picture cards must also be available for those children with non verbal communication. If we can follow the guidelines which our individual schools have as well as the Equality Act 2010, common sense too, then we should be knowledgeable in the planning of our lessons and activities to ensure all children are included at all times.
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All activity planning must be done to ensure all of the individual needs of the children are met. To be able to do this correctly we firstly need to look at the ages of the children we are working with. The ages will fall into the categories of, birth – 12 months, 12-24 months, 24-36 months and 36-60 months. Once we have identified the correct age bracket we can think about our activities, whilst we are doing this we must also ensure that we are giving choices to the children as this will help with their decision making and confidence.
For the birth-12 month age where the child is not mobile, placing a selection of toys within their reach is the best solution. For 12-24 months when the children are starting to walk and talk we can place different games and tasks around the setting and communicate with them and give them a choice of what they want to do. Again this can be used for the following 2 age brackets but we can expand on it by asking them to choose, unpack and tidy away their own activities as this will stretch them and promote more independence.
Whilst we do have these age brackets as a guideline we must remember that children will develop at their own pace and may not always fall into the set guidelines. Therefore we must assess each individual child and ensure that they are given suitable tasks with they will be able to complete either independently or with a little guidance and help. The child must never feel overwhelmed by the task or activity as this will affect their confidence. We could also again use differentiation for this.
Communication will form a large part in ensuring individual needs are met as we can speak to the children and ask if they are enjoying what they are doing and also finding out what their likes and dislikes are will help when planning future activities. Using communication to aid our planning will also benefit any disabled children as we will be able to discuss with them ways which they feel we could make activities easier and more enjoyable for them so their individual needs are also met.
It is of paramount importance that we fully meet the individual needs of the children so that they can gain further knowledge and skills which will help them grow and develop.
Within early year’s settings we must make sure that we promote the children’s physical and emotional well being, there are several ways that this can be done. Firstly we need to look at safety, not just the part of keeping the child safe and away from danger but making them feel safe in their new environment and with being separated from their parents. The child’s key worker will be in charge of this. The key worker will have to build a good and trusting relationship with the child so they feel safe in their care. Working with parents on this would be very beneficial in making the transition and separation easier. Finding out likes and dislikes of a child will also help with getting to know them as individuals and help build up a good relationship.
Safety must also cover keeping the child safe within the setting and away from harm. The key worker will need to ensure all age appropriate toys and games are used at all times to reduce problems such as choking hazards.
When we look at the physical wellbeing of the early year’s children we must also look at the key worker to child ratio to make sure the child is getting the correct amount of care. Whilst the children are under 24 months we must make sure that the ratio is one key worker to three children, this is due to them having no sense of danger and requiring extra care and watching. As the children get older and more mobile the ratio reduces, at 24-36 months there is only one key worker required for four children, this is because the children are becoming more independent. At 36-60 months the children are much more independent and are aware of danger and hazards.
Emotional wellbeing can be promoted in these early years in different ways. One of the biggest things we can do is to allow the child to make choices and decisions for themselves. Using a selection of games and letting them pick their own is a great way to do this, also allowing a choice when it comes to snack time is beneficial as it promotes independence and decision making skills which they will need in later life. We must also give the children the right to say ‘no’ to certain things as this will empower them and enable them to become more resilient individuals.
Other ways we can promote the physical and emotional well being of all children include introducing safety lessons and talks. Lessons such as kitchen and bathroom safety are important. Teaching about road safety and ‘stranger danger’ and appropriate and inappropriate ways of touching and talking to each other will also be very beneficial.
If we implement and promote all of the above to our early year’s children then they will have a good, strong and solid foundation which will help them greatly in later life.
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