Young children learn best through experience. They need many opportunities for practice or repetition of skills within a meaningful context. For infants and toddlers, the meaningful context is the activities and routines they do every day. Embedding strategies into daily routines will increase a child’s opportunities to practice the skill and provide that meaningful context for learning. In addition, by focusing on the family’s routines as the basis for intervention, the child will increase participation within routines and activities as a result.
For example, Joey’s parents are concerned about helping her learn to sit independently. The traditional model of therapy would involve the therapist performing activities to work on sitting and then giving a few things for the family to work on between sessions. With routines-based intervention, the therapist and family would look at daily routines that provide opportunities for sitting such as bath-time or mealtime. The provider would observe the current routine and problem solve with the family to offer strategies to target sitting within those routines. Because the provider is not a typical part of the family’s routine, the caregiver should be given ample opportunity to practice the strategies during the session so they will feel comfortable performing it when the provider is not there. In between sessions, the family would continue to implement the strategies.
Most providers agree that families need a “home program” to work on skills in between sessions. Indeed, the “therapy” is actually what happens between sessions. By providing strategies that occur during already-occurring daily routines, the need for “therapy homework” is eliminated. An added benefit is that the family is more likely to try the strategies because they are part of what they already do, not an “extra” thing added to their already busy day.
Embedding strategies into daily routines and activities of families is an important step to helping children and families achieve IFSP outcomes. It’s a model that applies what we know about how young children learn and maximizes the child’s learning opportunities. The provider can work to increase the caregiver’s confidence and competence as they learn to work with their child within the familiar framework of their routines. What routines have you observed with families? How have you observed routines-based intervention “in action?”
— Jamie Holloway
For more information:
Family Guided Routines Based Intervention- http://fgrbi.fsu.edu/model.html
McWilliam, R.A. (2010). Routines-based early intervention: Supporting young children and their families. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.