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Old 02-09-2021, 09:56 AM
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Default How to Get Parents to Help Support Delays Without "Insulting" Them/Their Child

I've been a registered early childhood educator for over a decade.

I just had a new 18 month DCK start with me a couple weeks ago. We've had some pretty big issues that we've been working with from the beginning (intense separation anxiety, EXTREME clinginess with me during the day and a refusal to participate in any aspect of the day). While trying to find solutions without traumatizing the poor child, I tried to encourage the parents to work with me since they know the child best. While they did seem sympathetic to their child's distress, I felt like they were getting defensive and acting like I was insinuating their child had some shortcomings. I tried to word my concerns so that it was clear that I was asking for their advice or suggestions on tactics that work for them but instead I felt like I got a bunch of excuses about why the issues existed (it's no one's fault!) and then a quick topic-change into how great the child is and how smart and cute they are etc. Anyway, I took the hint and just mostly dealt with things on my own.

So now. During our orientation, both DCM and DCD expressed that they believed their child to be "gifted". They had the child demonstrate some animal sounds, pick out a certain colored toy from a bin of toys and clarified for me that when the child kept repeating a babbled sound (sounding kinda like "agga agga") that she was saying one thing and then later another. They said she did art at home, played independently and was just overall very bright.

Now that we're a few weeks in and I mostly have the day running smoothly, I've been able to complete some observations. The issue is that it seems that the few animal sounds that were demonstrated are the only ones this child knows. The color they knew is the only color they know (and they label everything - colors/shapes/numbers/animals) with this word. And the "agga agga" is repeated constantly throughout the day with seemingly no pattern (she wails it when she's screaming, happily sing-songs it while running to a toy, mumbles it to herself while looking at books etc).

I do a preliminary developmental screening checklist on my new kids (for me only - just to get an idea of where they are and what our next steps should be) and I even waited a couple weeks with her because we had such a rough start. However, even now she seems to be meeting very few of the milestones and while I can attribute a lot of the social-emotional delays to things like covid and the child having been quarantined with only mom and dad around for most of her life, the language is just nowhere near where it should be.

It's not just the lack of expressive language either (which I've dealt with a lot in my line of work!) but the receptive language is what is majorly concerning me. The child doesn't seem to be able to point out objects in our books, body parts or even toys laying out infront of the group. If I give her a one-step instruction, she just stands and stares at me. Even when guided over and the instruction repeated when we do hand-over-hand, she just turns to look at my face with no expression on her's. We played a game with a bunch of shapes taped up on the wall and when I called out the shape name, the children got to run over and high-five the shape. This DCG watched everyone else for a while and then once guided over to the wall, she happily slapped the pictures but while everyone else was trying out the shape names, she kept repeating "ka" as she ran around, slapping each picture. She is the oldest in the group.

My first step is obviously just to create a more language-rich environment. More labelling, stories, songs and just as much verbal communication as I can squeeze in. However, from my experience I also know that it is imperative that this same process is repeated at home.

Usually in the past I've had no problem pulling the parents aside and flat out suggesting bedtime stories, singing together and just plain old talking with their kids (narrating what parents are doing, what the kids are doing - just keep talking!). But with this family I'm worried that I may have already established a bit of "reality check" where I'm willing to say that the child isn't a perfect prodigy and may have some areas to work on. If they are actually having trouble with this, they won't be willing to get on board with what I'm suggesting and might become more weary of anything I say in the future.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I just work on the issues here as best I can or should I suck it up and let the parents know that with all my experience, I'm seeing something that might require additional support so that it doesn't become a bigger issue in the future? And if I tell them... How do I word it so it's not taken as "Your child isn't gifted, they're actually the opposite so here's some extra work for you to do"?
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