The early years are a time of huge growth for children. They’re developing all the time and at different speeds, and to help ensure you maximise their ability to walk, run and express thoughts and emotions we’ve developed The Early Intervention Tookit (Itkit). There are recognised milestones is every child’s development. If you can spot when a child is a little bit behind and they could use some help, you can help them catch-up. The Itkit is designed to help you quickly assess their progress and build a plan with measurable outcomes to grow the life skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
The Itkit is a practical and inclusive tool that supports the early identification of any delays in learning and development in young children. It consists of initial frames of reference cards for each of the prime areas of learning and development. Once a gap has been identified, practitioners are guided to sets of intervention cards which focus on specific skills and provide assessment advice.
Making use of resources readily available in nursery or early years settings, each intervention card provides a step-by-step description of activities that can be used by any adult to help support the development of an individual child or small group of children. The Itkit provides an easy-to-follow intervention programme which can be included as part of the daily routine of teachers and practitioners.
The Itkit’s intervention record provides practitioners with a systematic method of monitoring the progress of individual children. This can be useful in helping to gather evidence should it be necessary to seek external support for a child.
What's in the Box?
The Early Intervention Toolkit (Itkit) is based on the three recognised prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework:
Communication and Language
Personal, Social and Emotional
Once you’ve designed a programme for a child, the Itkit includes tracking sheets that allow you to record their performance. Each child can have their own tracker, allowing you to chart progress and demonstrate their growth. The Itkit is the perfect tool to assist children when they need that little bit of extra help.
The Early Intervention Tookit can help all children to thrive and ensure their talents don’t go unused because they don’t have the support and resources that they need to give their very best, and because the Itkit is so versatile, you can use it for many years to come.
The frame of reference cards provided for each of the areas of development will enable practitioners to quickly identify the needs of a child. They then lead to the 44 activity cards which guide you through activities designed to support the development of the child. Two intervention record cards (which can be photocopied) are provided to help you keep track of interventions.
The Itkit Story
The Early Intervention Toolkit (Itkit) came about because of work being carried out by Linda Tallent and Jean Thompson, who were consultants in a local education authority in the Northeast of England. Linda (an Early Years specialist) was working with Jean (Early Years Special Educational Needs advisor) and they collaborated on a practical book dealing with Special Educational Needs in Early Years settings: A Square Peg in a Round Hole.
The book provided much needed practical help and support for teachers when trying to provide for children with special educational needs, but teachers were also concerned about children who were just falling behind in their expected levels of development. Both as professionals and parents (between them they raised seven children), they wanted to ensure that all children had the best start in their lifelong learning. Linda and Jean were regularly visiting settings and recommending activities for practitioners to help children who were falling behind in their expected levels of development. After a while, they were encouraged to collect their ideas into one resource that practitioners could keep in their own setting and use as and when required and the Early Intervention Toolkit was the result.
In order to help practitioners identify weaknesses and potential problem areas, they devised a series of ‘Frames of Reference’ cards to help narrow down difficulties in the three prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework: Communication and Language; Physical; Personal, Social and Emotional.
Linda and Jean also recognised that most practitioners were very busy and did not have the time to plan the activities and work out what resources would be needed to carry them out. They also acknowledged that many qualified teachers just simply could not always get around to all their children when needs arose and that they relied on classroom assistants and other adults in their settings to deal with the specific needs of individual children. Giving the kind of instructions necessary for others to carry out important activities often took more time than was available.
Consequently, the various activities were put onto individual cards along with simple instructions on how to carry out the task and what resources would be needed. The activities make use of resources that are readily available in an early years setting. The cards were written in such a way that any adult could easily understand, organise and carry out the activities, with guidance on what outcomes were expected and what further steps might be needed. There are individual record sheets which can be used to help keep track of any interventions should there be the need to pursue further SEN support. The laminated cards come in a sturdy box which can easily be stored within a setting and accessible to all staff.
The Itkit came about primarily to ensure that ALL children had the very best start in their lifelong learning. Linda and Jean encountered far too many children that were not able to reach their full potential in later years as a result of issues that could easily have been put right in the EYFS. They were not criticising the EY practitioners but acknowledged that often it was difficult for them to set up intervention activities that could provide a significant boost to a child’s confidence and development. Narrowing the gap in child development has always been the most important reason behind the Early Intervention Toolkit.
Since its introduction in 2015, the Itkit has been used successfully across the UK as well as in China, Abu Dhabi, Italy and the Cayman Islands. The Itkit is used extensively in the Sheffield area with over 150 being used in local authority and private settings.
The final chapter in this story was Linda and Jean’s desire to help parents provide similar support and encouragement for their children at home—to become directly involved with helping their children to become more confident as they came nearer to starting school. Parents can become concerned with their children’s behaviour or development as they observe how they play or interact with other children. The Pockitkit was developed to help parents address areas of concern with their children and to provide them with fun activities they could do with their children in and around the home. The 16 activity cards provide helpful advice on issues relating behaviour, coordination and practical skills. After activities are completed, it is hoped that children will generally be much more confident, and parents will have a better understanding of their children’s needs and how to proceed if they think the needs persist.