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IFSP Tutorial - Evaluation and Assessment
 

Planning with Families for Evaluation and Assessment:


Essential Content of Planning with Families


Page 10 of 13

Why identify a child's activity settings and how they influence evaluation and assessment

Federal and Maryland regulations mandate that early intervention services be provided in natural environments - settings that are natural or normal for a child's peers who do not have a disability. The term "natural environments" does not refer solely to the places, or locations, where a child/family spends time during the course of their day. It also includes the participatory experiences that occur in those places, i.e., the typical actions and interactions that occur between a child, family members and peers throughout the day.

The planning process for evaluation and assessment should focus on clarifying, for all partners, what participatory experiences are desirable for a child, not just the location where a child spends time each day. These participatory experiences are called activity settings, and provide the context for individualized learning opportunities for each child (Roberts, Rule and Innocenti, 1998; Bruder & Dunst, 2000; Dunst, Bruder, Trivette, Hamby, Raab, & McLean, 2001).

An activity setting is one of many participatory experiences in a specific location that provide the context for a child's learning. Activity settings are composed of:

  • the people involved, their values and beliefs, purposes and motives;
  • what the involved people would like to do, and how they will go about doing it;
  • relationships and interactions among participants.

Examples Include:
 
Location
Activity Setting

Home-kitchen

eating family dinner

Neighborhood

going for a walk

Child care center

playing with friends

Home-bedroom

reading a book before bedtime

 
     


A natural learning opportunity is a planned or spontaneous situation within an activity setting that presents a chance for a child to use/learn/practice skills or behaviors in order to successfully participate in an activity. Examples include: driving a toy truck along a road with a friend at childcare, or pointing to specific objects while reading a book.

 
 
Location
Activity Setting
Learning Opportunity

Home-kitchen

eating family dinner

using both hands to hold a glass

Neighborhood

going for a walk

looking for, and saying "dog" while walking outside

Child care center

playing with friends

pushing a toy truck along a wiggly "road"

Home-bedroom

reading a book before bedtime

pointing to specific objects while reading a book

 
     

Numerous learning opportunities are available within the many activity settings a child participates in within a specific location. The focal point for evaluation and assessment is to begin to figure out how to facilitate a child's participation in family-desired home, neighborhood and community activity settings. This process will continue with the ongoing assessment that is an integral part of the services/support provided to families once a child is eligible for early intervention.

 


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