Rather than providing instruction in an isolated and discrete manner, embedded instruction maximizes children’s motivation by following their interests, and promotes generalization and maintenance by providing instruction within and across activities, routines, and transitions.
Embedding instruction on individual goals into typically occurring activities and routines is a recommended and evidence-based approach to providing children the opportunity to learn and practice important skills in meaningful contexts (Grisham-Brown, Hemmeter, & Pretti-Frontczak, 2005). Rather than providing instruction in an isolated and discrete manner, embedded instruction maximizes children’s motivation by following their interests, and promotes generalization and maintenance by providing instruction within and across activities, routines, and transitions.
Available evidence suggests that embedded instruction:
- is effective for teaching children new skills;
- is effective for increasing engagement, participation, and independence;
- promotes generalization and maintenance of newly learned skills;
- is feasible for teachers to use in the ongoing activities and routines of the classroom. (Embedded Instruction for Early Learning, n.d.).
- Choose a priority learning-target for the student. A priority learning-target is a statement of an observable behavior or skill thechild will learn to do, and is key to their participation in the classroom (i.e. expressing their wants and needs, attending to task).
- Determine what activities are best suited to teach the priority learning-target. It is crucial to find a time of day when the skill fits in well so that it will be functional and meaningful to the student (e.g., using one sign to ask for food at snack). Embedding the learning target several times per day, across different activities, is encouraged.
- Use an activity matrix ((found here) to schedule the instruction, and include other classroom staff in planning how to address the priority learning-target to encourage consistency.
- When planning how to address the priority learning target, consider the A-B-C’s. Include an Antecedent-what will happen to prompt the behavior (can be naturally occurring or planned), define the Behavior-what the student will do as a result, and the Consequence-what will happen after the behavior.
- Plan for complete learning trials. Complete learning trials occur whenever there is a “complete” A-B-C sequence. Planning for a complete learning trial includes deciding what the consequence will be if the child does not perform the behavior. For example, an appropriate consequence after a pre-determined number of trials would be to assist the child in performing the desired behavior (e.g., providing hand-over-hand, helping the student to imitate a sign).
- Keep track of the opportunities provided to determine when the child achieves the priority learning-target.
Find more about (broken link) on the (broken link) Embedded Instruction for Early Learning website.
Request our newest curriculum unit, Growing Things that includes an Embedding Matrix that you can personalize and print.
Check out the book Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs, by Susan Sandall and Ilene Schwartz, for moreinformation on embedded instruction as well as practical teaching tips!
Embedded Instruction for Early Learning. (n.d.). Complete Learning Trials. Retrieved from (broken link)
Embedded Instruction for Early Learning. (n.d.). What is Embedded Instruction for Early Learning? Retrieved from (broken link) http://www.embeddedinstruction.net/node/17
Grisham-Brown, J., Hemmeter, M.L., & Pretti-Frontczak, K. (2005). Blended practices for teaching young children in inclusive settings.