Parents call out of frustration because their child is having difficulty in his/her existing program. They contact Child Development Consultants after repeated calls from classroom staff regarding problems their child is experiencing: in playing, listening, socializing, dealing with separation issues, following group directions, displaying a very high activity level or in some cases, demonstrating disruptive behaviors. Parents are often confused about their child’s classroom behavior and are eager to find help and direction. Parents may also contact Child Development Consultants when they are frustrated by their child’s behavior at home. During a home visit, they will brainstorm and strategize with a team member to develop highly specific strategies to implement at home, to support their child’s behavior.
Schools and center directors contact Child Development Consultants after being stymied by a child’s difficulty fitting in or being successful in his/her program. Often they have tried a variety of techniques that have proven less than successful and are seeking guidance to individualize a child’s program. Many times a child has needs in several areas including language, sensory, social and motor skill development. Child Development Consultants provide comprehensive support, training and strategies to help the child. Child Development Consultants may also come into a school or center to work with a teacher who has a particularly challenging group of children one year, to provide classroom management strategies and techniques to help the whole group get through the day more successfully. Child Development Consultants are approved providers of continuing education hours in Washington, DC and the state of Maryland. They are available to provide staff development workshops for teachers and workshops for parents.
Child Development Consultants observe how a child plays, socializes, and transitions from one activity to another, uses language, performs motor skills, and processes sensory information. They note classroom set-up, teaching style, the child’s learning style, structure of the program and the impact of these factors on the child’s ability to learn. They collect information from parents and teachers, combine it with their direct observations, analyze everything, and put it all together to develop highly individualized classroom strategies and recommendations. The resultant plans are practical and functional with the express goal of creating a productive, successful, learning environment for the child.
These parents may be interested in a home visit with Child Development Consultants. A consultant will sit down with them, discuss their concerns, brainstorm solutions, and make a detailed plan of action. Some families feel that one home visit is enough to get them back on track, while others may want more frequent meetings. Child Development Consultants uses a parent education approach: teaching parents how to manage their children’s behavior by analyzing triggers, consequences, and functions of behavior so that they can more effectively understand and shape their children’s behavior when challenges pop up. Child Development Consultants are not mental health providers so do not provide mental health services of any kind, but they are happy to refer parents to such professionals. See the "Services for Parents" page for more information about Home Visits.
Young children who are experiencing difficulty fitting into their home and school environments benefit from the services provided by Child Development Consultants. For example, let’s take a look at Dan, a four year old in his second year of preschool. Staff and parents contacted Child Development Consultants because Dan was having difficulty playing and socializing with children in his classroom. The staff described Dan as a verbal youngster who interacted almost exclusively with staff.
Prior to Child Development Consultants’ visit, Dan’s parents and teachers provided detailed information about how he played at home and school. They said Dan liked table-top activities best, appeared overwhelmed in large group activities, and watched, but did not participate, when his peers played on the playground.
Based on information collected during the intake interviews and concerns raised about Dan regarding sensory and possible language-processing issues, a consultant observed Dan in his classroom for a two hour period, watching his behavior and communication skills during several different types of activities and the transitions between those activities.
Following the observation, the consultant wrote a report that contained recommendations for home and school activities. Approximately, one week later, the consultant met with parents and staff at Dan’s preschool to discuss the report and strategies to help Dan acquire better play skills.
The teachers and consultant worked together to incorporate smaller group times into the classroom’s daily routine. Teachers more carefully monitored the classroom noise level and were given a variety of techniques, such as singing a quiet song, turning off lights or using a homemade “voice meter” to show children if the noise level was too loud. These strategies helped Dan to feel more comfortable in the classroom.
In addition, more activities were introduced to pair Dan with a peer both at school and at home. Activities included art, structured tabletop games and classroom jobs. Structured games were introduced during playground activities so that teachers were available to facilitate and support Dan’s participation. Dan’s parents also began inviting classmates over for play dates more frequently, with a structured plan to ensure success.