Supporting young students with disability

This professional learning will support educators working with children with disability in preschool, early intervention and the early years of school. It includes specific strategies and resources to ensure learning is tailored, relevant and inclusive of all children

Target audience

Early intervention, preschool and early years’ educators, supervisors and leaders.

Modes of delivery

1. Supporting young students with a disability video (22:19)

Specific strategies and resources to ensure learning is tailored, relevant and inclusive of all children.


Welcome to supporting young children with disability. We acknowledge their traditional custodians of the land in all areas that this professional learning is reaching. We pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal people joining us today. We recognise that Aboriginal people had been nurturing and teaching their children on this land for thousands of years.

Participation in this session will address these. This workshop will support educators to use family centred and strengths-based practice to support young children with a disability and their families while working remotely. Learners will explore a range of considerations when working closely with parents and carers of children with a disability in the context of remote learning. And then it will reflect on strategies to support wellbeing and ongoing learning for young children with a disability.

Early childhood pedagogy. What the teacher does to support learning. Two documents guide practice when supporting children's learning in all contexts, including when supporting children's learning at home. Belonging, being and becoming the early years learning framework for Australia and early childhood intervention Australia's national guidelines best practice in early childhood.

Framework five principles guide help educators working early childhood. Secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships is about nurturing relationships and providing emotional support. Partnerships with family and with other professionals. High expectations and equity believing in all children's capability to be successful. Respect for diversity, there are many ways of living, being and knowing. Ongoing learning and reflective practice, educators are now being asked to reflect carefully on how they can support ongoing learning in these difficult situation where children are learning from home.

The practice is underpinned the principles. Holistic approaches, that means that we pay attention to all aspects of children's development. Physical, social, emotional, personal, spiritual as well as cognitive aspects of learning. Responsiveness to children, this is about knowing in valuing, valuing children’s strengths, skills, and knowledge, and being responsive to them in their ideas. Learning through play such an important strategy in early childhood education. Intentional teaching, teaching that is deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful. Learning environments that are stimulating. And welcoming continuity of learning and transitions, assisting children to feel secure and at this time of change they may need additional support here and their families. Assessment for learning about the process is about gathering and analysing information about what children know can do and understand ongoing assessment for learning is going to be an important aspect of supporting learning at home.

These are closely aligned with best practice in early intervention. Family centred and strengths based. Practiced culturally, responsive practice, inclusive and participatory practice engaging the child in the natural environments. Collaborative teamwork, building the capacity of others who work with the child, and universal principles using evidence-based practices. Being accountable and using an outcomes-based approach.

Supporting learning from home. What are some of the considerations for children? Children are aware of events around them. They may have trouble expressing themselves or seeking understanding and children with disability, sometimes more aware than others realise many children with disability may seem to be in their own little world, but that often actually very aware. Changes in routines can have a big impact on children with disability.

Anxiety could increase and this can lead to increased characteristics of the disability. Parents may say increase withdrawal, increased sensory needs, a reliance on routines and over focus on repetitive behaviour. They may be increased focus on restricted interests or increased behaviour issues.

What are some considerations for families? There's increased pressure on families. There may be little or no respite and the everyday needs of the child may be very demanding in themselves in regard to self-care, toileting, hygiene, feeding, mobility, positioning, self-regulation, attendants to task and challenging behaviours. Children with a disability are not usually the only child in the family as well. They can be many other children and sometimes there can be other children with a disability. Families might have a language other than English. And they might have a disability themselves. They might have lost their job, will be running a small business that needs to close. There's a lot of stress and anxiety in the whole community at the moment.

It may not just be the early intervention program or the preschool program or the school that's discontinued. Other specialist services may also cease such as speech therapy or occupational therapy, respite, care, home care and support groups. And maybe that these services are also likely to want the family to continue the learning related to their program at home. Families can be very anxious about how they will continue this learning at home, and often they need to consider a range of services.

Setting the scene for learning at home. Supporting wellbeing for the family and the child could be one of the most important aspects of the role at the moment. Helping families and children to stay safe and well. Helping children to understand what is happening in the world at the

moment. Supporting positive relationships by at the heart of wellbeing. Reassuring families that we don't expect home learning to look like a school day and we don't want stress parents feeling like they need to force their children to sit down and complete tasks a bit like the stress of homework. Focus on learning at home, being playful. We wanted to be playful, and fun based around natural routines and environments at the home and to support positive relationships between parents and their children.

So how can we support wellbeing? Contact each family and ask about their concerns in their priorities in this current situation, but their family, their themselves, and their child. Ask parents how we can best support them and don't tell parents that they must do anything. Be sure that the strategies that we suggest will build strong positive, responsive family relationships and positive attachment between parents and young children is so important. Work to develop strategies that are realistic in each family situation. And as much as possible, help the family to use every day routines and learning opportunities in the context of the home. Help families to make learning engaging make it joyous. Make it fun.

Strategies to support learning and wellbeing at home. Social stories. A great strategy to share information and reduce anxiety. There are many examples available freely online at the moment. The whole world is trying to help each other cope with this difficult situation. Just try a Google search, coronavirus social stories and you'll get lots some are available in a range of languages. You might need to create your own to meet the specific needs of the children that you teach. But you can then send them home for the parents to use with their children. There's a couple of good examples here that could be a basis for stories that you might be able to use my coronavirus story. And Carol Gray, who has done a lot of work in this area of social stories, has published my story about pandemics and the coronavirus.

Stay connected with families and with children. The best way to do this depends on the school, the child, and the family. Possible ways could be just a phone call using the Department email to contact families through the school website SMS, social media, Skype, Zoom, web conferencing. Lots of ways that teachers can stay in touch with families and with the children. Just important to remember family privacy. Some of the technologies that we use can take us into the private homes of families and we need to be very respectful of the family home, the family space, and the privacy of that space.

Communicate frequently. Ongoing communication with parents, carers and the children. Make sure families know how they can contact you for support and the best time to contact you. Work with families to plan when teachers can contact them and how they can best communicate. What method of communication suits them best. You may develop a plan communication schedule with the family. And for families who don't speak English, use the departments translation services when needed.

You may need to review the individual education plan for each child. Each child will already have an individual education plan that has been developed in consultation with the family and other professionals working with a child. Review the plan and adjust it so that it will work for each child in their home context. There are many professionals that may be working with that child so supported team around the child approach. All those supporting the child work together to create one individual education plan that can be supported in the family home. And really supports families to have one plan that addresses the learning, ongoing learning for all of those people supporting their child.

Supply materials that are required electronically, you may need to supply some equipment that they been using at school or physical packs. Send home bags of favourite toys or books. Get feedback on how the child is going an update the individual plan often. Give ideas to support the family of the plan isn't working but celebrate with the child in the family when the plan is working.

The main components of each child individual education plan will need to be considered in terms of the home environment. The strength and the needs of the child might present differently in the home environment, particularly as routines have changed significantly. The long-term goals, the short-term goals they might need to be adjusted, or they may stay the same, but the way to work on them needs to be possible and practical in the home goal should emphasise the child's participation. They should be about the child functioning in the home environment. Need to consider adjustments that will make the child needs at home. These may be very different in the home environment, and the teachers may be able to support with equipment from school.

The priorities need to be considered an adjusted if needed. Children's needs may be very different at home. Records of achievement, how will the family feedback on progress? How will the teacher maintain records and how will they record progress? We expect ongoing progress. Organisational strategies, what resources can the teachers provide to support learning at home? Visual supports in daily schedules are wonderful tools that can help at home. How can the natural environment support the goals? How can teachers help families understand how the natural environment and incidental learning can support learning at home? Evaluation against plan goals and strategies need to be considered. Perhaps teachers will plan and schedule ongoing reviews with parents, and perhaps it will also include the other stakeholders, the other professionals who been working with the child to discuss the goals that they wish to achieve as well.

Teaches may help families to prepare visual supports to support learning at home. Photos, drawings, objects, or written words to create visual support such as visual schedules, daily or

weekly plans first then boards or choice boards can help families to structure the child's learning at home. Some resource ideas have found on the website Easter Seals School Closure Kit with lots of visual supports to support sensory learning, life skills, academics, movement, and leisure. They have carefully chosen a lot of the visuals in this tool to be centred around activities that are happening at home. That happened in the natural environment.

Statewide staff rooms also have a lot of practical visual resources that can be very useful to help with helping families plan their learning at home. Visit Statewide staff rooms on the Department of Education website.

A great strategy is to connect with the children regularly. Here we see a picture of a teacher who's recorded a favourite story from early intervention. That the child can watch over and over again at home. And only intervention teacher live on screen can be a great way to connect and the children just love it. Record yourself reading that favourite story or encourage children to engage with each other in this way as well. Encourage parents to support their children to connect with their friends and encourage the parents to stay connected with each other. They're going to be losing a lot of their support groups and a lot of supports that they usually depend on.

There's a task before you, based around a reading on the development of routines based early intervention model. Robin McWilliam works closely on developing a routine based early intervention model. Working closely with the family to maximise outcomes for children with disability. Read the reading and then choose an individual education plan that you have developed for one of your children and consider the goals, the outcomes to determine to what extent they emphasised the child's participation in a meaningful aspect of their life at the moment, probably their home, state specifically what the children will do, address of skill that was support participation in the home, and has meaningful acquisition criteria, so we will know that he can do this when we see and what we whatever we're going to see. And has a set time frame. Work with the family to adjust the IEP where necessary. This task relates to the Australian professional standards for teachers that have been identified as really relevant to this course.

Some resources. The Department of Education learning from home website has been developed specifically to support teachers to support students when they can attend school. There's a lot of information in here, and it covers the whole range from early childhood, right up to year 12, but particularly have a look at the sections on disability learning and support, and the early childhood resources.

Also, on the Department of Education weds website, take a look at Statewide staff rooms to support learning from home. Join our curriculum specialists in a Statewide staffroom just like

being in your own staff room at school to talk about disability learning support that's been set up in a Microsoft team. There's a whole range of different Statewide staff rooms, but this one's going to relate, particularly to supporting children with a disability. You select a team and you request approval to join and that will be granted within 24 hours. There's also a dedicated Statewide staffroom around Early Learning in New South Wales, and that's really worthwhile visiting as well. Keep going back to resources are constantly being added to the Statewide staff room and to the learning from home website page.

Here are some recommended resources that are particularly relevant to young children with disability or to all young children really. We have ideas for families. Starting blocks is a great site supporting families and the play group Western Australia with great play ideas. The Australian government, early childhood literacy and numeracy resources. Booklet and cards are really helpful in helping families support literacy and numeracy at home and to understand how they’re doing that. Particularly interesting is doctor Tony Attwoods talk on autism and anxiety that centres on the coronavirus and the impact that has on children and families on and that's to be found at autism hang out, really worth watching 10 or 15 minutes of time well spent and also there is the link to the Easter Seals social stories and school closure toolkit, which is great resource for supporting children in their home environment with lots of home environment visuals that will help support families to use the home, and understand how using the home is supporting their child's learning.

We would love to hear your feedback about this professional learning and we want you to make suggestions about future professional learning that you would like to be involved in. Please use the QR code or link below to access the evaluation forms in Microsoft forms.

Thank you for joining this session, but thank you also for all the work that you do. Supporting our young children with disability and their families. And especially at this time, supporting their ongoing learning at home, it's such a crucial time in child development when they're young and we need to continue to support children's ongoing learning in an effective and positive way. Feel free to contact us if you need. If you feel you need to at we'd love to be of help if we can. Thank you.

[End of transcript]

2. Supporting young students with a disability via My PL (Course code: NRG11217) 30 minutes


  • Additional needs
  • Early learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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