Health checks are used to establish where children are developmentally, compared to their peers, this is to monitor whether any additional help is needed physically or mentally. For example, a parent who is taking their baby for a health check, with their Health visitor, will be asked a series of questions about their crawling or walking, how they feed and speech. It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that any concerns are reported to the health visitor. Similarly screening for children continues up to the age of 16 and is designed to make sure that any health problems are spotted and can be dealt with early. These tests include 'The School Entry Health Check' which is testing for health, hearing and vision. Other checks include diabetic tests, anaemia test, thyroid function test and asthma test.
Before a child starts at a setting the practitioner should gather information about the child by producing a file about them containing handover notes from previous childminders or nurseries, the child’s likes and dislikes, any allergies and his typical daily routine. Observations are carried out on a day to day basis. A practitioner, parent or carer should always informally be watching out for a child’s development and progress or if there is any additional needs. Formal observations are normally documented to make sure that children are following the stages of development for their age, by gathering all information about that child. Over a period of time this will be obtained on a learning journal or development tool. It is a personal collection of notes, observations, 'all about me' and evidence and is used as a guide for a child’s progression and development. A development tool provides a reflective picture of how a child is developing and if any additional help is needed.
Assessments are needed to make a judgement on a child’s development based on the seven areas of learning. Once the EYFS has been followed and that child has accomplished their goals for their age, then 'next steps' will be carried out on that individual child. The practitioner or teacher should gather all the relevant information for that child, including observations, learning, health, behaviour and any additional information. With this the practitioner should then come up with a plan based on the data to enhance the child’s development further. Then planning will take place to set goals and plan strategies to help children progress and develop or just consolidate existing skills. After this, implementation takes place. Implementation is the carrying out, execution, method or practice of a plan. For example a child successfully carrying out an activity based on their next steps. Evaluating these plans are crucial as they may need reviewing or re-planning. In a setting where there are a number of staff, they may have information to contribute to the assessment by making appropriate changes or if a there are any concerns of a child. A 2 year check is also carried out on all children between the ages of 2 – 3 as per guidelines from the EYFS. The aims of the check are to: Review development in prime areas,give parents a clear picture of development, help practitioners understand and plan for the child’s needs, help parents understand and support development at home, note areas of good progress and identify any areas of slower progress and to identify actions to address any concerns.
It is important that all practitioners and parents work together to bring the four themes of the EYFS in action for all children. These are – A unique child + Positive Relationships + Enabling Environments = Learning and Development. The EYFS states that, 'Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.' With this it imperative that any knowledge of a child’s development is shared with other practitioners working in that setting and with parents, in sorting out the learning process of each child. Some settings hold frequent meetings with the parents so they are aware of any next steps that could be accomplished at home. Other settings produce a daily diary or a personal record book so a parent can take this home. Information could be stored in the diary about any further developments and how their child is progressing and learning.