Pass or Fail: The Importance of Early Intervention
In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.
While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?
How important do you feel early intervention programs are? Should more resources be put toward these types of programs, focused on reaching children with delays or disabilities, before they begin their academic careers?
The importance of early intervention has to do with the relationship between academic success and the ability to function – behaviorally, emotionally, socially, physically, and intellectually – in one’s environment.
It is well documented that students can experience disruption to their learning as a result of behavioral issues and lack of skill in key learning domains. In other words, they may struggle academically because they can’t function well in their environment. This is especially true for young children entering school for the first time. In the areas of language, early literacy, mathematics, socialization, and self-care, young children may experience delays that cause them to lag behind in their studies. For children with diagnosed disabilities, including the now astonishing number of students with autism spectrum disorder, the supports of early intervention help to prevent additional developmental difficulties and make existing development conditions better.
Early Intervention Benefits
Beyond this, there are also the positive and direct aims of early intervention, which include the promotion of early learning opportunities and the enhancement of basic knowledge and skills for students. Early intervention strategies, according to available research efforts, support these positive aims. A significant amount of research confirms the success of all types of early intervention programs. As a result of their successes, early intervention programs of various types are widely accepted as having both a preventative and a positive impact on child development, with particular emphasis on the management of special needs and promotion of school-readiness.
Other specific benefits of early intervention programs include fewer referrals to special-education services in schools. At least one major study suggests that there are gains in developmental outcomes for all children in inclusive early childhood settings. The success of early intervention is not unqualified, though. With most programs, obvious challenges exist with intervention implementation and effectiveness.
The Key to Success
There are two keys to unlocking intervention strategy success. First, the support programs depend on identifying children early on who need extra help. Second, they depend on providing some ways for students to receive that necessary support. There is growing evidence that intervention programs can prevent problems from occurring in later grades.
The importance of identifying issues early on is logical. The earlier a challenge is identified, especially with regard to development and its relationship to learning, the faster it can be resolved. By establishing any academic issues related to the delay, problems can be addressed, or even prevented.
Most developmental issues have a direct impact on learning. The importance of early intervention is simply that it can decrease certain problems, limiting academic delays caused by the developmental issue. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why early intervention from birth to three years, and even between three and five, is so crucial.
Most children do not enter a formal school setting until around the age of five or six. This depends on a variety of factors, but primarily on calendar age and maturity. A child who receives intervention to address delays before he or she enters formal schooling, is far more likely to succeed academically than a child who does not receive such interventions. Unfortunately, interventions introduced later in a child’s school career, when he or she is already struggling, have limited impact.
Do you feel most parents are aware of the importance of early intervention? Are enough resources available to parents of pre-school aged children, regarding developmental delays, assessments and early intervention?