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Using Narrative Assessment with Young Children with Complex Needs Joy Cullen Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Narrative Assessment with Young Children with Complex Needs Joy Cullen Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Narrative Assessment with Young Children with Complex Needs Joy Cullen Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand

2 An inclusive special education policy guides early intervention services Te Whāriki, the ECE curriculum, adopts an inclusive, holistic approach – socio-cultural philosophy Early childhood teachers are expected to take a key role in planning for children Early intervention teams (health and education) support teachers and families Partnerships with families are emphasised – an ecological approach The New Zealand Context

3 Child development knowledge (EI) versus a sociocultural philosophy (ECE) Skills-based assessment and individual plans (EI) versus interests-based curriculum and narrative assessment Assessment Tensions Issues for Inclusion Teachers beliefs: they need additional specialist knowledge Parents beliefs: they do not contribute to individual plans EI professionals beliefs: some teachers do not take responsibility Pressure for culturally sensitive assessment and services

4 Two 4-year-old children with high complex needs and their families Two community-based Early Childhood centres Two Early Intervention teams comprising hospital-based and education-based early intervention specialists Participants

5 Initial interview Professional development Learning stories written Individual Plan meeting Four questions answered (in writing) at the end of the IP meeting Final interview Process

6 Sarah has three times approached Joe (project child) to play with her. I decide to see if I can encourage Joe to play with Sarah by suggesting that Sarah hold the cone and Joe uses his scoop to put sand into it. Sarah holds the cone out towards Joe. Joe seems pleased with this idea so he happily fills the cone with dry sand. When it is full Sarah says to Joe I will make a castle. She tips it out and it all falls down. Joe smiles and says oooh. I suggest they do more. Sarah says yes Joe, do more. Joe puts more sand in. When the cone is full Joe loudly announces, thats enough. Sarah tips it out. Smash it down Sarah suggests. Joe laughs loudly and lays himself on the castle, wriggling around until the castle is gone.

7 Empowering Parents, Teachers and Support Workers Mother: If learning stories had been in place at the start then we wouldnt have been struggling with all the different language they (EI professionals) use. Teacher: It is good to have the specialists having to work with us … they have to look at our work (i.e. learning stories) as well as us looking at them. Education support worker: Doing learning stories takes the job up a level in terms of responsibility and enjoyment. Its more fulfilling because youre contributing in a meaningful ways. Hospital-based specialist: A positive approach that broke down the expert consultant view.

8 Strengthening Relationships Early intervention teacher: I felt as though I learnt more about the child but I also got to know more about the person who wrote it (the learning story) and what is important to that person. Teacher: An advantage of learning stories is the collaboration between everyone especially for EI team, making them look at a more holistic, broader sense. Hospital-based specialist: To share stories deepens a relationship, i.e. the childs relationship with other people. Mother: They (learning stories) seemed to bring out the actual enjoyment and the relationships they (the rest of the team) have with Joe and that made me feel good … you need more encouragement when you have a special needs child.

9 Combining Interests and Skills Speech language therapist: I gained far more information about Joes language than I could normally pick up and the context in which this communication occurs. Hospital-based professional: They (learning stories) forced me to document the positives but also considered she needed to know about the childs limitations – not as deficits but as constraints that should be acknowledged when planning.

10 While Nellie was on the pony [supportive walking equipment] something wonderful happened. Nellies activity caught the attention of two other friends. They immediately saw the potential of her being able to play more freely. They asked me if they could take her to the family area, they stood either side of Nellie, held her hands and walked over there. In their game Nellie was a beautiful ladybird, she held her head high. Nellie was turning her head to look at who was talking to her. Nellies response made it obvious she was enjoying herself as were her friends. I felt very happy for Nellie, because at that moment my hands on assistance wasnt needed. Complementary Relationship of Interests and Skills

11 Promotes shared understandings between team members; Strengthens relationships between the child and team members and within teams; Facilitates use of collaborative pedagogical strategies and knowledge by teachers and support workers; Acknowledges and strengthens parents understandings and contribution to planning; Contextualises EI professionals focus on skills. Learning Stories Assessment

12 EI specialists may not be ready to acknowledge implications of collaboration for their role. Integrated professional development is needed to facilitate change to assessment practices. Narrative assessment has potential to strengthen culturally-sensitive assessment and services. Structural barriers may inhibit collaborative approaches. Collaborative approaches involve ethical issues: whose voice is acknowledged? Challenges for an Inclusive Early Intervention Policy

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