Early Years Update focuses on the importance of inclusion with babies, toddlers and three- to five-year-old children. This is part ofa range of practical ideas to underpin the information in the Early Years Foundation Stage Principles into Practice cards

PiP Card Theme: A Unique Child ‘Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.’

Commitment 1.2 Inclusive Practice

‘The diversity of individuals and communities is valued and respected. No child or family is discriminated against.’

Areas of knowledge covered:

  • Children’s entitlements
  • Equality and diversity
  • Early support

The ‘Inclusive Practice’ section of the EYFS CD-Rom includes information on the Early Support programme, the SEN Code of Practice, guidance on the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), the role of the area SENCO and information on the legislation pertinent to equality, discrimination and special educational needs. Clicking on the ‘in depth’ logo on the ‘Inclusive Practice’ header gives access to detailed support material for staff training and professional development.

Supporting effective practice
To fully support inclusive practice all practitioners should be aware of how attitudes, behaviour, environment, policies and daily practices support inclusivity. This can be achieved by:

  • reflecting as a staff group on individual attitudes to diversity and how these may affect the provision provide equal opportunities for all
  • knowing the systems and structures which exist within the setting to promote inclusion
  • finding out about local support arrangements for children with particular needs
  • valuing the contribution parents/carers can make to supporting their child’s learning and development.

Working with babies To support a young baby’s developing sense of identity it is important to plan opportunities for frequent one-to-one contact between adult and child. These can be times to talk together, play with a toy, share a book, look out of the window, sing songs or play out action rhymes such as ‘Pat-a-cake’ or ‘Row the boat’. Babies whose home language is not English will feel comfortable and secure if practitioners are able to use some words or phrases in their mother tongue. When a new baby starts in a setting make sure information on family language use is recorded and pay particular attention to pronouncing and spelling children’s names correctly. Encourage babies to develop friendships by paying attention to their preferences, attitudes and moods and then providing lots of opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. Take photographs to capture these experiences to share with parents at the end of the day. Being aware of how babies respond to different stimuli and experiences provides the practitioner with a wealth of information on which to base planning for the next stages in a child’s learning and development. Sharing this with parents and listening to their observations and interpretations provides vital information to identify children who may be experiencing difficulties and who may require additional focused support to overcome these difficulties.

Ideas to use with toddlers

As children’s language develops it is important to provide time for talking, listening, singing songs and rhymes and performing music and dance. Not all toddlers will want to communicate verbally so pay close attention to the messages which children convey through their gestures, stance and posture. Children who are bilingual will be developing excellent communication skills, which should be nurtured. Toys, resources, books and displays should reflect the cultural mix of the families using the setting so that all children are surrounded by positive images which reinforce their own identity. Use imaginative play resources reflecting different cultures, picture books with stories from different countries and music and rhymes from around the world. Ensure there is a good policy for managing behaviour, which is understood and implemented by all practitioners. Share this policy with parents and work with them to address any behaviour issues which may prevent a child from being able to participate fully in the life of the setting.

Working with three- to five-year-olds

Support children’s cultural identity by providing appropriate images, books and resources to provide positive self images. Children will also enjoy being involved in celebrations from varied cultures and parts of the world, including the UK. Visits to local places of worship or civic buildings will build children’s awareness of their own identity and their place in the local community. Support this by inviting visitors into the setting to share their experiences with the children.

Provide regular feedback to parents on their child’s learning and development and offer information and advice on any developmental or behavioural concerns. Liaise with external agencies where appropriate and be prepared to provide support for parents where necessary.