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Child engagement and good mental well-being are paramount to good childcare. And knowing what tools to use to improve these factors is the key to understanding where to focus your efforts to gain the best outcome for the children.
At Kids Club HQ, an online platform that helps out of school clubs reduce their admin and get paid on time, we know you are doing everything in your power to improve your business and help the children grow. Therefore, you may have either considered using Leuven scales or are open to the concept to help monitor and improve the children’s care and mental health.
Here is a brief rundown on what Leuven scales are, how they can improve children’s care and mental health, and how you can use them in your out of school club.
What Are Leuven Scales?
Leuven scales assess two leading indicators of children’s development: well-being and involvement. They are used by many early years practitioners to evaluate the general development of all the children in their care or to keep a close eye on the progress of children they feel are falling behind their peers. The scores are decided through an observational period of just a couple of minutes per child.
Read the complete Leuven scales for well-being and involvement here.
Understanding Leuven Scales Results
The scales use a 5-point system to quantify the children’s behaviour.
A low score (1) suggests that the child’s development is at risk, while a high score (5) indicates good learning and maturation. Therefore, the children will receive two Leuven Scores with a maximum combined score of 10 and a minimum combined score of 2.
The Leuven scale is a good predictor of a child’s emotional well-being, and scoring high on this test is often linked with good mental health and confidence. While the involvement indicates a child’s engagement in activities and a high score indicates that these children are developing accordingly to their age and can experience adequate learning.
Signs of good well-being in the children in your care:
- They are open and receptive to new environments or new stimuli in a familiar environment.
- They are adaptive to new environments or new stimuli in a familiar atmosphere and able to consider their options and responses.
- They are self-assured and confident in their abilities. For example, they are comfortable expressing their emotions or taking on new challenges quickly.
- They are able to communicate their needs and are assertive in what they desire.
- They engage in play activities and genuinely seem to enjoy themselves.
Signs of good involvement in the children in your care:
- They concentrate on the task in front of them and aren’t too distractable.
- They are enthusiastic in their play, both physically and mentally.
- They use their innate creativity to problem solve and express themselves.
- They are persistent and don’t give up.
- They respond well to new information.
How To Use Leuven Scales To Improve Well-Being
Unlike other tools used to assess children’s development, the Leuven scale sees well-being as a priority indicator of good mental health, not just a side note.
The Leuven scale can be used to confidently indicate ways to support a child to improve their emotional state during your care and when they go home. Then you and your staff use the Leuven scale repeatedly to assess how a child is progressing with your changes to their care.
Another reason Kids Club HQ recommends using the Leuven scale is that it is a standardised test that parents can comprehend easily and to ensure that all staff members stay on the same page. In addition, using a number to represent children’s behaviour means that you can measure and share these findings with others.
The scales may also be helpful if a child has recently transferred into your care from another care centre. Using the Leuven scales, you can assess how the child adapts to being in your care, and therefore, you can show the parents their child’s progress and how that benefits them long-term.
How To Use Leuven Scales To Improve Engagement
The second key aspect of using the Leuven scale is to assess a child’s involvement.
Although there is a tendency the kids will gain a similar score on this scale as they do on the well-being scale, it is still useful to use this development indicator. As well-being and engagement are likely to change day to day or even during the same session, it is helpful to use both scales to keep track of the children’s development.
As well as giving the children a score from 1-5, you can also use the observational time to note what activities the child is doing during each observation. This may lead you to discover where the child places importance and what they are most interested in pursuing. Therefore, you can correlate the scores with different activities to identify the child’s areas of interest. Then you can aim to provide them with more activities that meet their interests and invest in new toys or plan lessons that cater best to the children.
You may also notice certain noises, smells, or sounds that distract the children. Therefore, you know what to eliminate if you want to improve the children’s attention and engagement.
You can use the Leuven scale for involvement to assess how the children respond to new stimuli such as new learning materials or toys. Then you can tailor your care to make it easier to introduce new things into their sessions without them feeling overwhelmed or closed-minded.
Additionally, you could ask the children’s parents to use the Leuven scale to record their child’s behaviour at home or in public to determine if they respond differently when surrounded by their family or in more/less familiar situations.
Improve Your Out of School Club With Leuven Scales
The Leuven scale has been used and refined since the framework was first created in the 1980s. The scales indicate a child’s development and show how to help improve the environment and classroom support to aid their mental growth. As easy-to-use systems, multiple people can use the scales to assess a child’s behaviours. Finally, the standardised scores can help everyone unite on where to best place their energies to help the children individually.