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Posted: September 26th, 2023

Differentiating between a developmental delay and a learning preference

Differentiating between a developmental delay and a learning preference is an important investigational skill early childhood teachers need to have in their tool belt. Professionally communicating this information to families is an integral part of the process. It can be difficult to communicate sensitive information with families, so it is best to be prepared prior to meeting.

For this assignment, imagine you are the teacher in a four-year-old preschool classroom, and you have three students whose behaviors concern you:

Billy is a four years and eight months old boy. He is the youngest of three at home and loves cars. You are noticing linguistically that Billy is still using one-word sentences. For example, when you asked him the other day which center he would like to go to, he responded enthusiastically “Block!” You probed for more information by asking why and he responded, “Fun!” You noticed these are typical responses for him.

Rasha is four years old and the youngest four-year-old in the class. She loves art and dancing. You wrote in your notes the other day that she goes to the art center every day and has not visited the outdoor center once. You also saw her trip on the playground when she was playing hopscotch.

Jordan is four years and six months old and he is capable of reading at an emergent reader level. You noticed that he does not like the block center and refuses to go to the paint center. During group work, he does not work well with the other students, sometimes yelling at them and refusing to share.

You are preparing for a meeting with the family of Billy, Rasha, or Jordan. Select one student and develop an action plan for the family in which you will discuss your observations and strategies that would help the student’s development.

For this assignment, compose a 500-750 word action plan that includes the following:

Identification of the specific academic or behavioral concern for Billy, Rasha, or Jordan.
Explanation if you think the academic or behavior concern is a delay in a milestone or a learning style preference, and justify your thought process. (Note: Teachers cannot diagnosis a disability.)
Description of two instructional strategies to support the child in the classroom.
Explanation of how you could collaborate with other professionals, including specialized experts, to support the student’s learning outcomes.
Description of two activities families can engage in with their child at home that would support the child’s development.
Description of how and when you will be communicating the student’s progress with the family.
Support your action plan with 2-3 scholarly references.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.

This assignment uses a rubric. Review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite Technical Support Articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.

You have outlined important observations of three students, Billy, Rasha, and Jordan, that warrant further discussion with their families. After careful consideration, I have selected Billy as the focus of this action plan due to linguistic concerns that suggest he may benefit from additional support.
It is my professional opinion that Billy is exhibiting a delay in language development rather than a distinct learning preference. At four years and eight months old, his continued reliance on one-word responses is concerning and below typical developmental milestones (Center on the Developing Child, 2016). While some variability exists, children his age should be combining words into simple sentences (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, n.d.).
Two instructional strategies I would implement in the classroom to support Billy include:
Using visual supports during activities and discussions to supplement his verbal responses. Picture cards depicting centers, feelings, or objects could help scaffold conversations (Wright et al., 2013).
Reading books with repetitive phrases and modeling expanded language for Billy to repeat. Storytime provides opportunities to reinforce vocabulary and grammar in a low-pressure setting (Justice et al., 2009).
To provide comprehensive support, I will collaborate with our school speech-language pathologist to conduct a language sample and determine if Billy qualifies for targeted intervention. Working together, we can create individualized goals and monitor his progress. I will also share my observations with Billy’s pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical conditions contributing to the delay.
At home, I recommend families engage Billy in interactive book reading each night, taking turns labeling pictures and asking open-ended questions. Playing with toys that encourage pretend play and role playing, like action figures or dolls, can motivate language use in natural contexts. Additionally, families could count everyday objects with Billy and expand upon his one-word responses.
I plan to meet with Billy’s family in two weeks to discuss his progress and any concerns they may have. Biweekly communication will allow me to share strategies we are using, monitor goal achievement, and make adjustments as needed to best support Billy’s language development. With collaborative efforts between home and school, I am hopeful he will make gains.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Language development milestones. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/language-development/
Center on the Developing Child. (2016, February). From best practices to breakthrough impacts: A science-based approach to building a more promising future for young children and families. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/from-best-practices-to-breakthrough-impacts/
Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., Cabell, S. Q., Kilday, C. R., Knighton, K., & Huffman, G. (2009). Language and literacy curriculum supplement for preschoolers who are academically at risk: A feasibility study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41(2), 161–178. https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0058)
Wright, C., Kaiser, A., Reikowsky, D., Roberts, M., & Oetting, J. (2013). Effects of a naturalistic sign intervention on expressive language of toddlers with Down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 56(3), 994–1008. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0060)

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