Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

RP Products by Topic: Instruction

ECTA Center was charged with assisting the WWW: DEC and WWW: DEC Commissioners to revise the WWW: DEC Recommended Practices and with developing products that would promote the use of the Recommended Practices, and with providing intensive TA to assist states in implementing evidence-based practices.

ECTA Center Staff Contributors

from the DEC Recommended Practices on Instruction:

Instructional practices are a cornerstone of early intervention and early childhood special education. Teachers, other practitioners, family members, and other caregivers use instructional practices to maximize learning and improve developmental and functional outcomes for young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays/disabilities.

Instruction Checklists

  • This checklist includes the characteristics of naturalistic instructional practices that can be used by a practitioner or parent to support and strengthen child learning and development while a child is engaged in everyday home, community, or classroom activities.

    The instructional practice is used when a child is already participating in an activity and practitioner or parent behavior are used to sustain engagement, provide opportunities for child learning, and to encourage child behavior elaborations. The practice is child-centered and is used in response to child initiated activities of high interest to the child.

    The checklist indicators can be used by a practitioner to develop a plan to use the practices with a child or to promote a parent's use of the practices. The checklist rating scale can be used to do a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practices with a child or promoting a parent's use of the practices.

  • This checklist includes the characteristics of embedded instructional practices that can be used by a practitioner or parent to promote a child's use of targeted, functional behavior in the contexts of home, community, or classroom activities.

    The instructional practice can be used to facilitate child acquisition of functional behavior by providing a child opportunities to engage in preferred activities and by using the practice characteristics to promote child engagement, learning, and development of targeted behavior.

    The checklist indicators can be used by a practitioner to develop a plan to use the practices with a child or to promote a parent's use of the practices. The checklist rating scale can be used to do a self-evaluation to determine whether the different instructional characteristics were part of using the practices with a child or promoting a parent's use of the practices.

  • This checklist includes the characteristics of systematic instructional practices that can be used by a practitioner or parent to teach targeted skills and to promote child learning and development.The instructional practices can be used to teach or facilitate child acquisition of adult-identified skills or behavior in an intentional, planful manner.

    The focus of the practices is on skill acquisition, how well a child can perform a target behavior (fluency), the ability to use the behavior once learned (maintenance), and to use the targeted skills in different settings and with different people and materials (generalization).

    The checklist indicators can be used by a practitioner to develop a plan to use the practices with a child or to promote a parent's use of the practices. The checklist rating scale can be used to do a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practices with a child or promoting a parent's use of the practice.

Instruction Practice Guides for Practitioners

  • Embedded instruction involves multiple, brief teaching interactions between a teacher and child during everyday classroom activities. By identifying functional behavior targets, selecting classroom activities best suited for embedded learning opportunities, and using planned and intentional instructional strategies, teachers can help children learn new behavior needed for participating in the classroom throughout the day.

  • Teachers can support children's participation, independence, and learning in everyday classroom activities by using a practice called "following the child's lead." Child-initiated interactions are a key characteristic of this practice. Fostering child-initiated interactions and following a child's lead involve planning and adjusting classroom activities based on children's interests, facilitating children's actions and interactions with the social and nonsocial environment, and supporting children's choices to transition from one activity to another. By following children's lead, teachers help them become confident and competent participants in classroom interactions.

  • Naturalistic instruction practices are used during everyday classroom activities to support and encourage child engagement in activities, child-initiated behavior and learning, and child behavioral elaborations. Teachers can promote child participation and learning in everyday classroom activities by providing interest-based activities, responding positively to children's initiations, and interacting in ways that encourage children to build on and expand their current capabilities.

  • When teachers of young children identify specific behavior or skills they want a child to learn, they can use systematic instruction practices to teach those targeted skills. By carefully planning and intentionally using teacher-directed instruction strategies in a consistent manner, teachers can help a child learn new behavior, continue to use the behavior over time, and use the behavior in different settings and with different people.

Instruction Practice Guides for Families

  • Intentionally including, or "embedding", learning opportunities in everyday activities at home or in your community is one way you can help your child learn new things. Embedding learning opportunities in everyday activities involves identifying what you want your child to learn, selecting the everyday activities that provide opportunities to learn things, and using brief "teaching" interactions with your child to help him or her become a more capable participant in his or her daily life.

  • Parents can support their children's play and interactions during everyday activities by following their children's lead. Following a child's lead involves promoting the child's participation in activities based on his or her interests, supporting the child's actions and interactions with materials and people during the activities, and supporting the child's choices when he or she wants to change the focus of interest. When parents follow their children's lead, they can help their children become confident and capable play partners.

  • Parents have the opportunity to teach their children in so many different ways. When you want to help your young child learn a very specific behavior, you can achieve success using a well-planned, focused teaching method called Systematic Instruction. Using this method can be a rewarding way to help your child learn new behavior, acquire a new skill, and learn how to use it in different activities and with different people.

  • Parents can use the everyday activities in their homes and communities to support their children's participation in activities, children's attempts to interact with people or materials, and their efforts to do new things. You can encourage your child's participation and learning during everyday activities by providing your child opportunities to do what he or she can and likes to do during everyday activities, responding positively to your child's attempts to interact with you and others, and helping your child do new and different things.

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Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
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