Teaching

What Works to Prepare Young Children With Disabilities for School?

By Nirvi Shah — May 07, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new review of research tackles the effectiveness of
different strategies that are meant to prepare young children, especially those
with disabilities, for school. Early intervention can
have a huge effect
on whether students with disabilities are ready for
school, and may even help them exit special education before or soon after they
enter school.

In a recent review, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works
Clearinghouse
found that something called milieu teaching appears to have
no discernible effects on prepping young children for school, and more research
is needed about another strategy known as play-based interventions.

When teachers use strategies embedded in regular activities to prompt students
to do a specific thing, it may be a form of milieu teaching.
For young children with disabilities, the method can be a way to prepare them
in preschool for the rest of their educational life.

Here’s an example from the Plano,
Texas, school district.

This might be placing favorite toys visible but out of reach, presenting the child with a new activity, or 'forgetting' to provide a key component of a familiar activity. When the child appears to want the item, the adult makes eye contact with the child. The adult may simply look expectant,anticipating the child's asking for the item. If the child makes the request (i.e. is able to produce the target skill), then he or she is praised by the adult and receives the item along with social praise. If he or she does not respond appropriately, then the adult may try one or more of a variety of prompts, usually starting with the least intrusive. These include: providing the child with a natural prompt ('What do you want?'), explicitly asking the child to make the request ('Make the sign' or 'Point to the picture'), modeling the request for the child, or physically guiding the child in making the request. ... When the child has produced the target skill using whatever assistance was necessary, he or she receives the item along with social praise. It is usually not a good idea to use too many prompts because this can confuse the child, or make the child prompt-dependent. ..."

The What Works Clearinghouse said it
looked at 161 studies about milieu teaching, finding only one that met its criteria for research.
Based on that study of 40 preschool children with developmental delays in Davidson County, Tenn.,
the WWC said there just
isn’t enough evidence
out there to vouch for milieu teaching.

The agency also looked at
research
about play-based interventions. These are described as
“practices designed to improve socioemotional, physical, language, and
cognitive development through guided interactive play.” (Please share an
example if you have one.) An interventionist uses strategies to sustain and
encourage child play activities, WWC says. “Through the use of appropriate
play materials and the direction of the interventionist, the goal is for young
children with disabilities to be better able to explore, experiment, interact,
and express themselves.”

But does it work? A review of more than 60 studies from the past
two decades found that none met the WWC’s criteria for quality research,
(something that’s been
lamented
in the past).

The agency says still more research is needed.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion Wanted: Students to Write About This School Year
Classroom Q&A is inviting teachers to have their students write about their school experiences for publication here.
1 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching If Outdoor Learning Is Safer During COVID, Why Aren't More Schools Doing It?
Teachers and advocates tout the benefits of outdoor learning, but there are barriers for some schools, including the risk of gun violence.
9 min read
Angie Ninde leads her class through a math lesson outside at Centreville Elementary School in Virginia on Sept. 7, 2021.
Angie Ninde leads her class through a math lesson outside at Centreville Elementary School in Virginia Sept. 7. The risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower outdoors, so some schools are trying to take classes into the fresh air as much as possible.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Teaching Opinion Integrating SEL & Tech Into This New School Year
Technology opens up programs that allow students to drive their learning, while social-emotional learning influences lessons and teaching.
7 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching In Their Own Words 'Chaos in the Adult World': A New York Principal Tells Her Story of Being a Teacher on 9/11
Janet Huger-Johnson was a 5th grade teacher in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Here's her story.
5 min read
Principal Janet Huger-Johnson at East New York Elementary School of Excellence in Brooklyn, New York on Sept. 8. 2021.
Principal Janet Huger-Johnson at East New York Elementary School of Excellence in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Jackie Molloy for Education Week