Using child preferences to increase play across interest centers in inclusive early childhood classrooms

  • DiCarlo C
  • Vagianos L
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Naturalistic teaching methods are often used to facilitate explicit child-directed instruction within early childhood environments. They are designed to promote opportunities for instruction within the context of daily routines. The teacher's role is to design the environment and select materials, activities, and routines that will promote children's opportunities to perform specific skills. When the opportunity arises (e.g., the child indicates interest or begins to interact with toys or an activity), the teacher provides the instructional support necessary to assist the child to participate successfully in the activity or routine and complete the skill. It is important for teachers to identify if children are neglecting interest centers and to plan an intervention that will engage them in a variety of activities. The purpose of this article is to share strategies, consistent with naturalistic teaching methods, which support and enhance the inclusion of young children with special needs in early childhood environments. These strategies build on high-quality early childhood programs to facilitate child-specific instruction by helping teachers (a) examine the environment, (b) observe engaged toy play within classroom learning centers, (c) identify preferred qualities of toys, (d) embed toys with preferred qualities within least preferred learning centers, and (e) determine and use required levels of adult prompting to elicit learning objectives. The collective purpose of these strategies is to encourage and support the play of children with disabilities in the inclusive preschool classroom. (Contains 3 tables.)

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  • Cynthia F. DiCarlo

  • Laura Vagianos

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