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IFSP Tutorial - Developing and Implementing

Developing the IFSP:

Essential Content

Page 12 of 13

Effective strategies identify how functional outcomes will be achieved

Strategies indicate how specific child and family outcomes desired by families can be achieved. It is particularly important to keep informed about evidence-based practices in early intervention when selecting both initial and continuing strategies for achieving family-selected outcomes.

The questions below guide family members and early intervention providers in choosing effective strategies when an IFSP is initially developed, and later, as ongoing progress is reviewed with a family. Each strategy recorded on an IFSP should address one or more of the following guidelines:

  1. Individualization
  2. Context
  3. Mastery
  4. Collaboration


1. Individualization:

Do strategies build on child and family interests?

Children are active participants in their own development, based on their drive to explore and master their environment. Interest-based learning has positive benefits and is an important factor contributing to a child’s learning and development (Dunst, Hamby, Trivette, Raab & Bruder, 2000; Bruder, Trivette, Raab & McLean, 2001; Nelson, 1999).

Strategies should build on family/child interests and activities such as:

  • routines/special events (e.g., taking a bath, going to a family celebration)
  • objects/toys/pets (e.g. feeding a family pet,
  • interactions (e,g, visiting grandma, playing with brother, answering the phone)
  • hobbies/fun/leisure (e.g., playing/listening to music, squirting hose at one another)
  • environment (e.g. taking a walk, playing in back yard, planting flowers)


Examples of strategies that build on family/child interests:

Outcome and Criteria


Family outcome:

Sylvia will take Paolo to the park and shopping, by herself

Sylvia will take one trip with Paola to either the library, mall or other community activity by herself within the next 4-6 months

• Sylvia will review the mobility training she received at the MD School for the Blind

• I/T provider (or linkage service) will accompany Sylvia and Paola to community activities such as the library

• Sylvia will identify available transportation and ask family and other community supports to accompany her on a trial run

Child outcome:

Neena will eat and drink by mouth like other kids during family outings

Neena will drink a minimum of 4 oz of fluids from a cup and eat 3 spoonfuls of food during family outings

• Family and I/T staff consult with GI doctor about realistic timetable and plan for Neena to drink and eat

• I/T providers will share information about oral-motor development with parents and suggest enjoyable hand/mouth games to play with Neena

• Family and I/T staff work together to introduce Neena to new foods and liquids and track her likes and dislikes

• I/T staff will accompany family on outings to adapt eating suggestions

• I/T staff will link family to other families who have a child with a feeding tube to see how they cope and get around in the community


2. Context:

Do strategies build on familiar places, people and routines?
Strategies build on familiar family/community situations and people a family typically interacts with. An effective strategy is part of a child’s and family’s existing (or intended) actions and interactions in every day life. Strategies that are used only during provider-directed therapy or lessons isolate a child and do not take advantage of the numerous opportunities for meaningful interactions with caregivers in environments that are most likely to promote mastery (Dunst, Trivette, Humphries, Raab & Roper, 2001).

Examples of strategies that focus on a familiar context:

While reading to Sabrina, her family will emphasize beginning and ending sounds of words (versus producing specific sounds “on command” from an early intervention provider)

I/T staff will show Tallie and her parents how to walk on different surfaces in and out of her home using her walker (versus practicing walking in a therapy session once per week)

3. Mastery:

Do strategies ensure generalization of a child’s actions/interactions in multiple settings and tasks?

Much evidence has accumulated about how very young children learn. Children are active participants in their own development, due to on their drive to explore and master their environment. Even infants are aware of the effects of their own behaviors, and prefer consequences that they can control directly versus those that are uncontrollable. Expanding motor and communication behaviors depends on repetition and practice in meaningful situations with generalization across different settings.

Examples of strategies that encourage mastery of actions/interactions in different places and spaces:

Mom will show grandparents how to relax Hang before her bottle (for a premature infant who is cared for by her grandmother while her mother works)

I/T staff and Dad will look at backpacks with enough support for Dad to take Jamie (for a toddler who enjoys the outdoors and is just learning to sit up)

I/T staff will help parents adapt their bedtime routine so Luci can sleep in places other than her crib (so family can go visiting with Luci who is easily overstimulated in new situations)

LITP will help Veronique (childcare provider) find toys/activities that encourage Kata to play quietly beside other children (for a child who is both social and very distractable)

4. Collaboration:

Do strategies specify “who will do what”?

Shared implementation of strategies by family members, child care and early intervention providers reinforces the evidence-based practice of supporting key adults to promote child learning and development in family and community settings. Discussing “who will do what” provides another opportunity to talk with families about the early intervention model of supports and services in natural environments.

Examples of strategies that specify “who will do what”:

I/T staff will model rate of speech for family members when talking to Kyle

Mother will call Dr. – to ask about lactose intolerant formula

I/T staff and mother will explore community networks for child care close to mother’s job

Family and child care provider will hold Neena so she can see what is going on and who is talking

Table 2.3 provides examples of strategies that build on family/child interests and routines in familiar contexts across multiple settings to promote child mastery and parent competence.


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