Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

RP Products by Topic: Interaction

from the DEC Recommended Practices on Interaction:

Sensitive and responsive interactional practices are the foundation for promoting the development of a childs language and cognitive and emotional competence. These interactional practices are the basis for fostering all childrens learning. For children who have or are at risk for developmental delays/disabilities, they represent a critical set of strategies for fostering childrens social-emotional competence, communication, cognitive development, problem-solving, autonomy, and persistence.

Interaction Checklists

  • This checklist includes the kinds of adult (parent or practitioner) behavior that can be used to engage a child in adult-child interactive episodes to promote and support child competence.

    The main focus of the practice is responding contingently to a child's behavior to elicit or maintain child interactions with an adult during everyday activities and play. Adult contingent responsiveness is characterized by sensitive, prompt, and appropriate amount of adult behavior to maintain and not interrupt child interactions.

    The checklist can be used to develop a plan to use the practice with a child or to promote a parent or practitioner's use of the practice. It also can be used for a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practice with a child or promoting a parent's or practitioner's use of the practice.

  • This checklist includes the kinds of adult (parent or practitioner) behavior that can be used to encourage and promote nonverbal or verbal child communication behavior.

    The checklist includes a number of behavior, activities, etc. that can be used to be responsive to a child's intent to communicate and to engage a child in interactive episodes that focus on enhancing child communicative competence. The adult behavior can be used as part of any and all everyday activities and as part of adult-child play.

    The checklist can be used to develop a plan to use the practice with a child or to promote a parent or practitioner's use of the practice. It also can be used for a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practice with a child or promoting a parent's or practitioner's use of the practice.

  • This checklist includes the kinds of adult (parent or practitioner) behavior that can be used to encourage, support, and promote child social-emotional competence. The checklist includes a number of practices that can be used to both engage a child in social play and to be responsive to a child’s social-emotional behavior and responses.

    The adult behavior can be used as part of any everyday activities and child-adult social play.

    The checklist 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. It can also be used to do a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were used with a child or for promoting a parent’s use of the practices.

  • This checklist includes the kinds of adult (parent or practitioner) behavior that can be used to encourage and support peer interactions to promote positive interactions and play.

    The adult behavior include things both to reinforce mutually interesting and enjoyable peer interactions and to promote and enhance child interactive competencies. The adult behavior can be used as part of planning interactive episodes (e.g., play groups) and as part of naturally occurring child-child play during everyday activities.

    The checklist can be used to develop a plan to use the practice with a child or to promote a parent's or practitioner's use of the practice. It also can be used for a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practice or promoting a parent's or practitioner's use of the practice.

Interaction Practice Guides for Practitioners

  • Social emotional behavior begins with a child responding to adult interactions. These behaviors include an infant smiling in response to a familiar adult's face or cooing in response to a caregiver's voice. Infants and toddlers learn to recognize social cues through interactions with adults. Adults support this in many ways, such as describing and responding to child social cues and gestures and providing lots of opportunities for the child to engage in social play. Older toddlers use behavior such as holding a hand out to request "more" of something, or by saying "my turn" during a social play activity. It’s important to provide many opportunities for children to interact with and be responded to by adults.

  • The very first sounds infants make are the beginnings of social communication. Encouraging infants and toddlers to use vocalizations and words to express their needs and desires can help them become social partners in everyday interactions. By noticing and responding to children’s attempts to communicate, you can promote their language learning.

  • At an early age, infants and toddlers learn and use gestures and signs to communicate their desires, needs, and preferences. You can help young children interact more easily with others, and facilitate their later language learning, by supporting their use of nonverbal gestures and signs during everyday classroom activities.

  • Peer interaction is important to children’s learning and development. Children learn new skills by observing and interacting with other children during everyday classroom activities and routines. By paying close attention and responding to what children are doing while playing and interacting with others, adults can support and enhance their interactions.

  • Throughout the preschool years, young children continue to acquire and use new and more complex language abilities as part of interactions with other children and adults. You can boost children’s language learning by increasing their opportunities to engage in conversations and by both encouraging and supporting their language use during everyday classroom interactions.

  • Using rhymes during interactions with toddlers helps them explore the sounds and purposes of language. Songs, finger plays, and rhyming games provide opportunities for toddlers to have fun during interactions with adults while building skills for understanding and using language.

  • Adult-child shared reading experiences provide rich opportunities for mutually beneficial teacher and child interactions. When teachers spend time reading with young children in ways that encourage their active participation, they help children strengthen their listening skills, develop their language abilities, and increase their knowledge about the world.

Interaction Practice Guides for Families

  • Throughout the preschool years, children continue to learn new words and use language in new ways when interacting with others. You can support your child's language learning in everyday interactions through simple conversations about his or her ideas and interests. By responding to your child and encouraging him or her to try saying new and different things, you can help your preschooler become a talkative partner.

  • Is your child making eye contact, pointing to objects, babbling, or smiling to try to tell you something? Teaching your child some simple gestures and signs can make it easier for her to communicate. It can help her make the connection between her communicating what’s on her mind and getting what she wants.

  • Peer interaction is important to children’s learning and development. Children learn new skills by watching and interacting with other children during everyday activities. By paying close attention and responding to what children are doing while playing and interacting together, you can support and enhance their child-to-child interactions.

  • A child's social emotional development happens during interactions with adults. These behaviors include an infant smiling in response to a parent's voice or cooing in response to a grandmother rocking him in the chair. Toddlers use social behaviors such as saying “my turn” during a play activity; or laughing and saying "again" during an activity.

  • Children ages 3-5 are ready to take an active part in shared story time. Reading picture books with your preschooler helps spark her imagination and love of stories. Great times to read are when you and your child are relaxed and able to talk with one another, such as bedtime or during everyday play times.

  • When infants begin showing interest in their parents and other adults, the time is right to play social games. Social games are back-and-forth, your-turn/my-turn infant-adult play accompanied by short rhymes or songs that engage infants in playful interactions. Some of the results of playing social games with your child are active child participation, lots of playful bouts of back-and-forth communication, and bunches of smiles and laughter. Enjoy!

  • The very first sounds infants make are the beginnings of social communication. Encouraging your infant or toddler to use sounds and later words to let you know what he or she wants or needs can help him or her to enter a world of shared interaction. By noticing and responding to your child’s attempts to communicate, you can lay the groundwork for language learning.

Evaluation Icon:

We would sincerely appreciate your feedback, opinions and suggestions through your participation in this painless survey.

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
  • OSEP's TA&D Network:IDEAs that Work