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Early Childhood Print this page

Early Childhood

Children begin learning and developing new skills from the day they are born. Early Childhood is a term that generally refers to infants and young children up to 8 years. Parents, siblings, relatives and friends develop close relationships with a child. They play a critical role in nurturing and supporting them in every area of development as they encourage their child to take part in family routines daily activities and social or cultural traditions.   

When a child is not developing in the same way as other children, has difficulty forming relationships with family members or has been diagnosed with a specific condition such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, it means that learning may happen in different ways for that child. Families can seek support from Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services to share and develop their understanding of the specific strengths and needs of their child and to plan the best way for their child to participate and learn in every day life. Children who may be at risk of a delay in their development for other reasons including medical conditions, or being born prematurely, may also benefit greatly from ECI services.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) professionals such as Special Educators, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists work closely with parents and carers to identify how their child best learns and develops within their family. Professionals recognise the people in a child’s family as key members of their child’s intervention team. They work collaboratively with families and other services to ensure that a family’s individual priorities and needs are represented.

ECI supports all children to participate in the same kind of experiences as other children their age. ECI professionals recognise that some families will need information and support as they plan for their child to attend early childhood settings (child care, preschool, family day care), schools or activities within their local community. Other people and professionals such as teachers and sport coaches, who work with children who have additional learning needs, can access guidance from ECI Professionals to ensure all children are able to participate meaningfully within community activities.

ECI Professionals play a key role in supporting families and their child to make important transitions and gain independence as they grow. Families can be supported to think about the choices that will help their child and family to live in the way that is important to them.  This could include choosing a child care centre, preschool, school or school holiday activity. Families may also ask for assistance in accessing a community activity such as a local playgroup, sporting team, church or social group. Ongoing support means that families and children are able to make valuable social networks in the communities their family lives in and they grow up in.

For more information on Early Childhood Intervention contact:

Early Childhood Intervention Information Line

1300 130 052

www.parentline.org.au/

This resource by Jenny Kemp of Lifestart: oi.org.au/index.php/en/resource/item/198-keeping-it-real-jenny-kemp