Developing meaningful and high quality IEPs for young children with disabilities requires teams collect data from multiple sources as authentically as possible (using familiar environments, people, and materials).
In summarizing this data and developing annual goals, teams should consider how each area of need or skill deficit identified impacts the child’s progress in the general education curriculum (as aligned to Virginia’s new Birth-to-Five Early Childhood Learning and Development Standards) and their participation in age-appropriate activities.
When many skills are identified across different areas of development, how can teams prioritize those targeted through the child’s IEP?
Consider the following, and how many are a “yes”, to identify critical skills that will have the most meaningful impact on a child’s progress.
1. Will learning this skill enhance the child’s participation in daily activities?
Consider how acquiring this skill will impact the child’s daily life. Will they have greater access to age-appropriate activities or materials? Will it increase their interactions with peers or adults in their life?
2. Will the child be able to use this skill across a variety of settings?
Prioritize skills that are immediately useful throughout the day. Doing so creates more opportunities for practice and generalization across activities.
3. Is this skill a priority to team members, specifically family members?
Prioritizing input from family members when determining skills to target. This ensures opportunities for practice and progress continue beyond the school day.
4. Is this skill not likely to develop without intervention?
Target skills that will not likely develop without specialized instruction. Monitor emerging skills that are developing without additional interventions.
5. Will this skill positively impact the development of other skills?
Think across developmental domains when targeting skills that impact “whole child” development. Consider those that are critical prerequisites to later skills or components of others that may be missing or stalled.
Grisham-Brown, J., Hemmeter, M.L., & Pretti-Frontczak, K. (2017). Blended practices for teaching young children in inclusive settings (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Johnston, T.C. (2014). Data without tears: How to write measurable educational goals and collect meaningful data (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Research Press Publishers.