Identifying Special Needs in the Early Years


Kay Mathieson

  • Citations
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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    View Copyright Page


    My thanks to Emma Hertzberg, Early Years Consultant (, for the wonderful photographs which have made sure that the children's voices are heard in this book. I am indebted to the children, families and practitioners at the following settings for permission to use the photographs:

    The Grove Nursery School, Peckham

    Puddleduck Nursery, London SE22

    Tatchbrook Nursery School, London SW1

    Waverley School, Enfield

    Rachel MacMillan Nursery School, Deptford

    Putting together a book like this is inevitably a combination of ideas developed through working with many children, families and colleagues. Without everyone's contribution to the sharing and problem solving I have been part of over the years, this would have been a very short book. Thank you all.

    Also thanks are due to Jude and the team at Paul Chapman Publishing. Without your encouragement I would never have started this journey.

    Special thanks also to Simone. Yet again I couldn't have done it without your support!

    How to use this book

    The purpose of this book is to provide information and guidance about identifying and supporting children's additional needs in relation to their learning. The book can be used in a variety of ways depending on the situation and previous experience of the reader. It is arranged in eight chapters with an outline and summary of key points for each chapter. The intended audience for the book includes adults working in day nurseries, schools, pre-schools, nursery classes and toddler groups. The terminology used is a deliberate attempt to be inclusive; therefore, any adult working with children is referred to as a ‘practitioner’ and ‘setting’ is used to include all of these situations.

    In terms of maximum impact on everyday practice, the ideal would be for the text and suggested good practice to be explored by a whole-staff group at the same time. But the experience of working through the suggestions in any group will increase confidence and enable individuals to influence the practice positively in their setting. For an individual, the book will provide reinforcement of good practice and prompts to reflect on current experience in any setting. The book can be used for reference, to dip into particular chapters as appropriate or to work through from beginning to end.

    The suggested good practice can be used to facilitate group discussion and learning, or to prompt and develop personal reflection. The focus throughout the book is to identify and increase the frequency of observable good practice. The ultimate evidence of the understanding of the information contained in the chapters is that it informs the individual day-to-day practice of the practitioner. This cannot help but lead to improved experience for each child. This involves taking time to consider how we feel and what influences our reactions to specific situations. If this is done in a reflective and problem-solving way, it can lead to useful insight which can improve our practice. It does not, however, provide factual knowledge about what someone else is thinking or reasons for their actions. We must be prepared to amend our hypothesis in the light of further experience.

    Ultimately, the book is a learning tool to be used flexibly to suit a particular situation. Remember that learning takes place best in relaxed and happy conditions, both for adults and for children, so I hope your experience of the book is also enjoyable!

    About the Author

    Kay Mathieson has taught in a variety of mainstream primary schools in both Scotland and England since 1981 when she qualified. In 1990 she began specialising in Special Educational Needs and has taught both infant and junior aged pupils with a variety of additional needs. Her interest in behaviour developed through her work in a Pupil Referral Unit and her experience in establishing an outreach support service to provide support before pupils were excluded.

    She has delivered a range of INSET and training to staff groups, newly qualified teachers, support staff and Headteachers. She has been involved in writing Better Behaviour in Classrooms published by RoutledgeFalmer and Social Skills in the Early Years, Supporting Behavioural Learning published by Paul Chapman. From 2002 she was leading the Area SENCO team for Croydon Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership. In 2006 this role was extended to Inclusion Manager for the Early Education and Childcare Section of Croydon Education Department. She is also currently studying for a PhD at University of Sussex.

  • Bibliography

    Astington, J. W. (1993) The Child's Discovery of the Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    Carlin, J. (2005) Including Me: Managing Complex Health Needs in Schools and Early Years Settings. London: Council for Disabled Children/National Children's Bureau.
    DfES (2001a) Ofsted National Standards. London: Ofsted.
    DfES (2001b) Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. London: DfES.
    DfES (2003) Every Child Matters. London: DfES.
    DfES (2004) Removing Barriers to Achievement: The Government's Strategy for SEN. London: DfES.
    DfES (2006) The Early Years Foundation Stage (draft). London: DfES.
    DfES/QCA (2000) Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. London: QCA.
    Disability Rights Commission (2002) Code of Practice for Schools Disability Discrimination Act 1995. London: The Stationery Office.
    Dowling, M. (2005) Young Children's Personal, Social and Emotional Development (
    second edition
    ). London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
    Dunn, J. (2004) Children's Friendships: The Beginnings of Intimacy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
    Gerhart, S. (2004) Why Love Matters. London: Routledge.
    Hala, S. (ed.) (1997) The Development of Social Cognition. Hove: Psychology Press.
    High/Scope (1998) Supporting Children in Resolving Conflicts (video).
    Karmiloff, K. and Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2001) Pathways to Language: From Fetus to Adolescent. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press.
    Laevers, F. (2000) ‘Forward to basics! Deep-level learning and the experiential approach’, Early Years, 20(2): 20-9.
    Pascal, C. (1997) ‘The Effective Early Learning Project and the National Curriculum’, in T.Cox (ed.) The National Curriculum and the Early Years: Challenges and Opportunities. London: Falmer Press.
    QCA (2005a) Seeing Steps in Children's Learning. London: QCA.
    QCA (2005b) Observing Children – Building the Profile. London: QCA.
    Robinson, M. (2003) From Birth to One: The Year of Opportunity. Suffolk: Open University Press.
    Sure Start (2002) Birth to Three Matters: A Framework to Support Children in their Earliest Years. London: DfES.
    Trevarthen, C. (1993) ‘The function of emotions in early infant communication and development’, in J.Nadel and L.Camaioni (eds) New Perspectives in Early Communicative Development. London: Routledge.
    Wall, K. (2004) Autism and Early Years. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
    Wall, K. (2006) Special Needs and Early Years (
    second edition
    ). London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

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