Effective Practices in Early Intervention

Photo of a boy baby straight from his bath, lying on his back in a bathtowel, wearing tube socks.

A critical part of improving developmental and educational results for children with disabilities is using effective practices in early intervention, wherever services are being provided—an agency setting, the home, and across the child’s natural environment.

An impressive knowledge base of experience has been built on the delivery of early intervention services. We are pleased to launch you into that knowledge base with these “starter” connections to the experts.


Organizations with Serious Expertise

Land first at the ECTA Center
ECTA is the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. That name says it all, doesn’t it? The link we provide takes you to ECTA’s “topics” page, where you can pick your pleasure.

Early Childhood Research & Reference Portal
Also from the ECTA Center, the portal links to national and state by state EC data sources, evidence-based practices, online journals, literature databases, and grants databases.

Visit Project CONNECT
CONNECT has developed web-based, instructional resources for faculty and other professional development providers that focus on and respond to challenges faced each day by those working with young children with disabilities and their families. The modules help build practitioners’ abilities to make evidence-based decisions.

Promising Practices
The Promising Practices Network site features summaries of programs and practices that are proven to improve outcomes for children. All of the information on the site has been screened for scientific rigor, relevance, and clarity. Explore, explore!

Do you hear an ECO?
ECO stands for the Early Childhood Outcomes Center. In past years, it has provided national leadership to help states implement high-quality outcome systems for early early intervention and early childhood special education programs. It’s now merged with the ECTA Center, so explore the many resources that transferred.

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Let the Children Play (to Learn)!

Solutions Tool Kits: Practice guides for parents and early childhood staff alike
The RTC on Early Childhood Development just keeps on comin’ with materials you can use. Their Solutions Tool Kits include collections of practice guides for promoting child development and learning. Any of these interest you?

Games for growing: Teaching your baby using early learning games.

Lap It Up: Early learning through parent-child lap games.

Powerful Playtime: Toys and learning for the very young child.

Literacy for Little Ones: Activities to boost beginning reading, writing, and much more!

Visit CELL, the Center for Early Literacy Learning
Lots of practice guides here, for promoting early literacy learning. Guides for parents and practitioners, including many in Spanish.

Reading the intentionality of young children
Through six video clips and accompanying commentary, this article describes how,  by carefully observing how very young children play, adults can gain insight into their high-level thinking and their knowledge, as well as the implications that their strategies hold for their assumptions, theories, and expectations. Adults can then become more protective of children’s time during play, more skillful in making a parallel entry into their world, and more effective in helping them extend or reconsider their assumptions about how the social and physical world works.

Up Close and Personal: Strengthening the parent-child relationship

Hands-on ways to build social emotional skills through everyday routines
Visit the Book Nook at CSEFEL (Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning) and have a look at the guides offered there for teachers/caregivers and parents. Examples of suggested activities include using rhymes to talk about being friends, making emotion masks to help children identify and talk about different feelings, playing games around what to do with hands instead of hitting, and fun music and movement activities to express emotions.

Online module on embedded interventions
Learn about the practice of embedded interventions to help children participate in a variety of early learning opportunities and environments promoting high-quality inclusion. Available in English and Spanish. From Project CONNECT.

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Addressing Behavior Challenges in Young Children

Accentuate the Positive: Strengthening positive child behaviors

Helping children learn that there’s a relationship between their behavior and its consequences
The RTC on Early Childhood Development describes what’s effective in “early contigency” learning and how disability or developmental delays affect a child’s speed in learning the connection between their behavior and the consequences it may have. Implications for practice are described in terms of the environmental arrangements most likely to optimize the greatest amount of positive social responding. And hey! There’s info in Spanish: ¡Sí! ¡Hice que pasará! (YES! I made it happen!) and ¡No hay apuro! Las investigaciones comprueban que vale el ser paciente (No rush! Research proves it pays to be patient).

Effective practices for preventing challenging behavior
This brief from the Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior describes several early intervention strategies, including: (a) arranging of the classroom environment, (b) scheduling, and (c) implementing rules, rituals, and routines.

The 6 steps of positive behavior support
From the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children.

Positive beginnings: Supporting young children with challenging behavior
Six online modules for inservice and preservice early interventionists and early childhood educators.

Supporting children’s mental health and reducing challenging behaviors
Visit the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, whose target audiences include  Head Start administrators, staff, and programs, as well as mental health consultants and families. The Center translates research in healthy mental development into materials tailored to the needs of each of the target audiences, and makes them available on this website.

Teaching tools
“Teaching Tools” is a product of the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention. They are meant to assist teachers in developing a plan to support young children who are having challenging behavior.

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Assistive Technology for the Little Ones

Using assistive technology
Research shows that using assistive technology can help young children with disabilities learn valuable skills. Find out more about AT for infants and toddlers at the link below.

Really? Assistive technology for infants and toddlers with disabilities?
Yes, indeed, there are many ways in which AT can optimize such young children’s development and learning. Visit the Tots ‘n Tech Research Institute (TnT) and find out how. TnT has lots of materials and guidance for families and early interventionists alike.

Including AT in the IFSP
From Tots ‘n Tech comes this very helpful brief on considering AT for a child and including it in the IFSP.

Funding assistive technology
This resource page of the ECTA Center will connect you with the various assistive technology funding sources for infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities.

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