S E A R C H   
IFSP Tutorial - Developing and Implementing

Implementing the IFSP:

Essential Content for Implementing the IFSP

Page 2 of 16

Natural environments and early learning

Each child and family has many natural environments - not just one - where they spend time with family, friends, and neighbors in specific activity settings. Early intervention providers can help families explore how spontaneous and routine interactions and actions within familiar places become the focal point for a child’s “learning and doing.” Such growth is most likely to occur when the setting for early intervention supports and services is in a family’s natural environment (Schmidt & Lee, 1999; McLean & Woods Cripe, 1997). The term “natural environment” describes a child and family’s context covering:

  • Physical location (e.g., family home, community park, grandma’s house);
  • Activity settings within a location (e.g., eating a picnic in the backyard, wading in a pool at a friend’s house, taking a bath , feeding the animals a petting zoo); and
  • Natural learning opportunities within a child’s activity settings (fitting lids on plastic containers, naming body parts during a bath, filling a dish with little pellets).

Infants and toddlers spend most of their time in three broad categories of natural environments: family, community and early childhood programs (Dunst et al, 2001). Each presents numerous activity settings and natural learning opportunities for promoting a child’s current skills and developing new ones.

Examples of activity settings and natural learning opportunities in natural environments common to young children and their families:




Early Childhood

Family routines:
Preparing a meal
Holding a spoon to stir

Family excursions:
Riding on a bus
Looking for red cars

Preschool/child care:
Circle games
Recognizing name

Parenting routines:
Brushing teeth
Standing on stool

Wading in a pool
Sitting independently

Family child care:
Playing in sandbox
Filling containers

Child routines:
Playing with family pet
Following movement

Children’s attractions:
Petting animals at zoo
Holding hand open

Infant swim class
Relaxing in water

Family rituals:
Birthday party
Blowing candles out

Place of worship
Singing songs/hymns
Remembering words

Mother’s morning out
Eating snack
Sucking on a straw

Interacting with family
Phoning grandma
Saying hi

Family outings
Eating at a restaurant
Drinking from cup

Library preliteracy group Listening to story
Paying attention

Play activities
Clapping games with sister
Using two hand together

Play centers
Sitting in baby swing
Enjoying movement

Informal play groups
Splashing in sprinkler
Interacting w/peers

Banging drum
Repeating rhythm

Attending puppet show
Sitting with peers

Community recreation
Finding Easter eggs
Finding specific object

Planting seeds in pots
Poking with finger

Picnicking at a park
Crawling on grass

School drop-in center
Finger painting
Moving arm and hand



The mandate of natural environments is not only to identify where early intervention takes place but more importantly, to consider what happens for children and families in specific locations. How early intervention providers offer family/child supports and services, not just where, is key to whether early intervention is truly family-centered or merely replicates a clinical model within a child’s home or child care setting. Daily routines and activity settings “are important contexts for integrating various family/child supports and services. For families and other caregivers, this approach allows infants and toddlers to participate more successfully in daily living activities and reduces the need for families to add ‘treatment’ sessions to already busy schedules ” (Rainforth & Roberts, 1996, p. 252).




Video Clips:

The video clips are available in Windows Media Player format and Quicktime format. In order to view the clips you must have either Windows Media Player or Quicktime installed on your machine. To download the programs, click on the icon next to the program's title.

Windows Media Player


To View the video clips:

1. Choose the speed at which you can view the file. If you have a dial-up modem, then you should choose the low-speed file name. If you have a DSL or Cable Modem then you should choose the high-speed file name.

2. The video will open in the video program. (Windows Media Player or Quicktime)




Videos Below:

Review a video clip from Just Being Kids illustrating how a mother, Yvonne, and her early intervention provider, Trudy, figured out how Yvonne could "multitask" i.e., buy groceries and help her son, Blake, enjoy shopping while prompting his communication and pre-literacy skills.

1. Parent’s perspective about how early intervention could be helpful

Windows Media File (wmv)

High-Speed File: Blake A

Low-Speed File: Blake A (56K modem)

QuickTime (mov)

High-Speed File: Blake A

Low-Speed File: Blake A (56K modem)

2. How an occupational therapist views natural environments

Windows Media File (wmv)

High-Speed File: Blake B

Low-Speed File: Blake B (56K modem)

QuickTime (mov)

High-SpeedFile: Blake B

Low-Speed File: Blake B(56K modem)

3. Parent’s comments about early intervention in everyday routines

Windows Media File (wmv)

High-SpeedFile: Blake C

Low-Speed File: Blake C (56k modem)

QuickTime (mov)

High-Speed File: Blake C

Low Speed File: Blake C (56k modem)









Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15



Website designed and hosted by:
The Center for Technology in Education (CTE)
Johns Hopkins University Copyright 2003



Legal Requirements
Developing the IFSP
Implementing the IFSP
Getting Started
View Outline