Academic journal article Bilingual Review

Family-Centered Early Intervention

Academic journal article Bilingual Review

Family-Centered Early Intervention

Article excerpt

General Overview of Early Education in Mexico

In the 1960s, international awareness of the diverse educational needs of children under four years of age who require special education began in the disciplines of psychology, pedagogy, and anthropology. During the last thirty years, early intervention, as part of a general trend in early education, has gained acceptance and promotion worldwide, growing from virtual nonexistence into a broad range of services addressing the diverse problems that exist in different geographic areas and at varying sociocultural levels. It has also been demonstrated that early attention enhances the educational achievement of students and prevents costly social and educational problems (Department of Public Education 1992).

Attention to infants, toddlers, and young children has become one of the most important trends in special education and related services. Professionals in special education have become aware that:

1. The first three years of life can be the most critical for educational and therapeutic intervention to prevent slow development and to reach maximum potential.

2. Frequently parents of newborn infants and young children with disabilities require information, guidance, emotional support, and adequate orientation to effectively manage their child from educational as well as emotional perspectives.

3. Unfortunately, most of these children have to wait months or even years before they receive some educational assessment (Bailey 1988).

Consequently, the traditional view of education for specific periods in life, provided only in school settings with the unique and essential function of reproducing and transmitting certain mental frameworks, knowledge, and traditions for the individuals' adjustment to society, needs to be abandoned (Caballero 1982). Caballero reconceptualized education as a process that should extend throughout the life span of human beings. He also viewed educational reality as being manifested within the family context as well as in school and society. Therefore, the endeavors of each person involved with young children need to be redefined, and the objectives and mechanisms to accomplish these endeavors restructured. The potential of the family as a nurturing nucleus must be recognized and requires renewal and strengthening. This necessitates planning for the education of all family members and not leaving the responsibility to societal institutions or other support systems outside the realm of the family unit.

According to Stevens and King (1987) early education is defined as educational attention provided to children under four years of age and oriented toward the child's integrated development. Throughout the world, early education has developed for different purposes and with diverse names. Internationally, there is lack of clarity and little agreement in relation to the terms commonly used. This results in confusion and ambiguity. Most confusion occurs with terms such as early intervention and early stimulation. At the beginning, different authors from different countries used these two terms indiscriminately, and many consider these two terms as being synonymous, even though in many publications the difference is implicit.

In Mexico, early education consists of three modalities: initial education, early intervention, and early stimulation.

Initial Education

In Mexico initial education is defined as a "service that offers children an integrated education supported by an active participation of adults and centered on the development of the person, of his or her relationship with others, and with the environment." It has been consolidated as a nationwide service with the explicit and unique purpose, as stated by the Mexican government, to contribute to the harmonic growth and even development of children from birth to four years of age (Department of Public Education 1992). …

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