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Recognizing Developmental Delays in the Classroom

April 2, 2018
Arizona Early Childhood Network

Your role as an early childhood professional takes on many facets, especially in understanding standard developmental milestones for preschoolers. This understanding will provide you a baseline that’s key in recognizing developmental delays in the classroom. 

With this in mind, here are a couple areas of concerns and their indicators that may signify developmental delays:

Language or Speech Delays

When it comes to language development most preschoolers follow a general timeline, but there are signs that can indicate potential delays in speech and language development. For example, do you notice your student’s speech differing from their peers? Or, are you having a hard time understanding your student when they are trying to communicate with you, or other children in the classroom? If so, these indicators may be directly related to hearing issues and challenges. 

You may also notice your student becomes frustrated or aggressive (biting or hitting) if they are unable to effectively communicate their wants and needs. Whatever the indicator, it’s important to be proactive and contact your student’s parents right away in an effort to have the child evaluated by an expert, such as their pediatrician. 

Social and Emotional Delays

By the time a child enters preschool, their social interactions with adults and their peers are being shaped by their experiences at home. Often times, any issues will occur prior to them starting school, and you may notice these red flags right off the bat. Did you observe the child isolating himself from others and not initiating or joining in play with peers? Does the child have difficulty or become upset with changes or shifts in routines? 

As with speech and language delays, there may be a disorder or medical condition that is affecting a child’s difficulty in communicating. In these special cases, your student may be best suited for specific therapies to address these setbacks. 

Overall, early prevention plays a significant role in treating these delays – keep the lines of communication open with parents. Show support not only with the child, but also with the parents and stay proactive in their progress. 

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