Reflect on own practice in meeting children’s additional needs

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.13: Support children with additional needs
Learning outcome: Be able to support the additional needs of children
Assessment criteria: Reflect on own practice in meeting children’s additional needs


Early years practitioners have the responsibility to provide a safe, nurturing environment where children can learn and develop. Meeting the additional needs of children is an important part of creating this environment, and requires practitioners to be reflective in their practice. Reflection allows practitioners to identify areas that need improvement and make necessary adjustments in order to best meet the needs of the children they are working with.

The Reflective Cycle Model

A popular model used by early years practitioners for reflection is the reflective cycle model developed by John Dewey, which consists of six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. This model allows for an in-depth exploration of any situation so that it can be adequately understood before decisions about further action can be made.


In terms of meeting a child’s additional needs, this model could be utilized as follows: 1) Describe the event or scenario – what happened?, 2) Identify your feelings about it – how did you feel in response? 3) Evaluate the situation – what went well/what didn’t go well?, 4) Analyze why things happened as such – why did it go well/why didn’t it go well? 5) Draw a conclusion and identify what you learnt from the experience – what lessons were learnt?, 6) Create an action plan – how will you use these lessons going forward? This model helps ensure that all aspects of a particular situation are taken into account when reflecting on practice. It also allows practitioners to gain insight into their own thought processes so they can better understand their own behaviour and adjust accordingly.

Reflection Through Collaboration

Another way early years practitioners can reflect on their practice is through collaboration with others. This could include peer mentoring or working alongside other professionals such as educational psychologists or speech and language therapists who may have more specific expertise in certain areas relating to additional needs. Through collaboration with these professionals, practitioners can gain valuable insights into ways they can better meet the individual needs of each child in their care by sharing ideas and experiences. Additionally, practitioners may benefit from participating in professional development opportunities such as seminars or workshops which focus on certain topics related to meeting additional needs. These opportunities allow for open discussions about various strategies for supporting children with special educational needs (SEN), providing a network for sharing ideas and resources.



Reflecting on practice is an essential tool for early years practitioners when meeting the additional needs of children in their care. Practitioners should utilise models like Dewey’s reflective cycle model to help them explore challenging scenarios in depth as well as collaborating with others through peer mentoring or working alongside SEN professionals to gain new perspectives on how best to support each individual child’s specific needs. Professional development opportunities are another great resource which allow for open discussions about various strategies for supporting SEN children and provide a platform for sharing ideas and resources amongst professionals within this field. Ultimately, reflection helps ensure that early years practitioners remain up-to-date on current practices so they can continue providing a safe learning environment where every child feels supported and able to reach their full potential!

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