The Leuven Scale is a simple but powerful tool that can be used in early years education and childcare settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. The scale is used, through observation, to assess different aspects of children’s development and behaviour, including those with any challenges. The scale is so named because it uses a five-level scale in assessments. For example, the engagement scale will assess whether a child has little or no interest in an activity (Level 1), is easily distracted from the activity (Level 2), superficially engages with the activity (Level 3), shows some motivation and is concentrating on the activity (Level 4) or is highly motivated and interested in the activity (Level 5). Once assessed, the findings can be used to identify areas where additional support may be needed and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and programmes designed to provide that support. Assessment, planning, actioning and reviewing are approached in a continuous, circular way, as illustrated in the accompanying diagram. In this way, any interventions designed to help a child are fully optimised and positively impactful.
The Leuven Scales most widely used in early years settings monitor well-being and involvement, engagement, relationships and classroom behaviour. However, well-being and involvement is usually the prime area of focus in early years settings, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on today.
Read on to learn more about how the Leuven Scale is used in childcare settings, see some examples, learn about its benefits and more.
Where Did the Leuven Scale Originate?
The Leuven Scale was developed by Ferre Leavers and his team of researchers at the Centre for Developmental Psychology in Leuven University in Belgium.
How is the Leuven Scale of Well-being & Involvement Used in Early Years Settings Like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery?
As the name suggests, the Leuven Scale of Well-being and Involvement consists of two key components. The well-being component includes elements that assess various aspects of a child’s well-being, such as physical health, emotional well-being, and social relationships. The involvement component includes elements that assess various aspects of a child’s involvement, such as participation in activities, self-care, and decision-making.
In early years settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, the observations and assessments for each component are made by early years practitioners including a child’s Key Person although parental observational feedback is also welcomed. The practitioner or Key Person will generally observe across a variety of different situations to help formulate an overall picture. This may include observing during meals, sensory activities, structured and free play, and while children pursue activities of particular interest.
After careful review, the information gleaned from the scales can be used to identify trends and any areas of concern. Findings will be used to inform the development of individualised education plans, with measurable targets being formulated, for the assessed child. If external professionals are involved in the child’s learning and development, they may also be a part of the process. An example would be when a child is supported by a Speech and Language Therapist. Parents can also be involved in any support plans via specific activities to undertake at home. These may be designed to strengthen, for example, instruction following or to bolster the child’s social skills.
Once implemented, the support measures can be used in early years education and childcare settings for monitoring progress over time. Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and support programmes in the long term is essential to ensure measures are having the desired effect and identify areas where additional support may still be needed going forwards. This is why it’s a circular approach of assessing, planning, doing, reviewing and beginning again at assessing etc. (see diagram above) so that every opportunity to optimally help a child has been undertaken. All in all, the goal is to reduce any socio-developmental gap between the child in question and their peers.
Below are a few examples of how the Leuven Scales of Well-being and Involvement could be used to guide activities for children identified as requiring extra support.
A Child Has Difficulty with Social Interactions
Using the Leuven Scale, the child’s social skills are assessed and it could be found that the child has difficulty making friends and initiating conversations. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills, such as social skills groups, role-playing activities, and games that require interaction with others.
A Child Has Difficulty with Self-Care
Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child has difficulty with dressing themselves and brushing their teeth. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills, such as teaching them how to dress themselves, how to button and zip clothes, and how to brush their teeth.
A Child Has Difficulty with Decision-Making
Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child has difficulty making choices and expressing preferences. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills. Examples might include offering a variety of activities and encouraging the child to choose which activities they would like to participate in, teaching them how to make simple decisions, and helping them to understand the consequences of their choices.
A Child is Not Involved in Many Activities
Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child is not participating in many activities. Activities could therefore be planned to increase the child’s participation. Examples might include offering a variety of activities that align with the child’s interests, encouraging the child to participate in the activities, teaching them how to join in and showing them how to initiate activities themselves.
It’s worth noting that these are just a few examples and the activities should be tailored to the individual child’s needs and abilities based on the results of the Leuven Scale assessment. Other factors such as the child’s interests, preferences and the setting’s resources should also be considered.
Overall Benefits of Using the Leuven Scale of Well-being & Involvement
Using the Leuven Scale of Well-being and Involvement for children under five offers several benefits. These include identifying areas of concern in physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, activities, self-care, and decision-making. Once identified these, in turn, facilitate the making of individualised education plans. The continuous assessment approach allows for progress monitoring, evaluating intervention effectiveness and identifying any additional support needs. The involvement of the child, with support if required, also empowers them to express their views. Sharing Leuven Scale results with parents additionally promotes their involvement and understanding of the child’s needs and progress all to the benefit of the child. All in all, the validated and widely used Leuven Scale ensures evidence-based measurement, which enhances the effectiveness of any resulting interventions and programmes. The scale is key in enhancing the quality and relevance of provision, as well as ultimately improving outcomes for children.
Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham
We hope that this guide has given you a little more insight into what goes on behind the scenes at childcare settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. If you are searching for a good nursery or preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, do consider Leaps & Bounds. All Government-funded childcare schemes are supported by the nursery, including 15 and 30 hours of free childcare per week for eligible children (follow the bold link for more details). We would be happy to show you/your child around, see how well they fit in and answer any questions. Use the buttons below to get in touch, arrange a tour or to get started and apply for a nursery/preschool place.
We are a nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, also convenient for those looking for high-quality childcare near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne or Smethwick.