to Children's Success: Individualizing Every Day
Taken from Training Guides for
the Head Start Learning Community
In this module, participants learn how to individualize all
elements of their program's curriculum in response to children's individual
Create indoor and
outdoor environments that encourage the growth and development of
all children, including children with disabilities;
It is not necessary to provide
a separate set of materials or plan one-on-one activities for each
child to provide an individualized program;
Strategies for supporting each
child's development can be developed during the daily and weekly
planning process and arise in response to teachable moments.
To respond to each
child's unique characteristics, Head Start staff and families can
individualize the following elements of the curriculum:
Indoor and outdoor
Material and equipment
Routines and transitions
Individualizing is an integral part of
implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum. It is an approach
that Head Start staff and families can use throughout the early childhood years
at home, at the center, at an FCC home, and/or during group socialization
sessions. All elements of the program's curriculum can be individualized.
Some examples follow.
Individualized Elements of a Child Development Program
environment allows all
children, including those with disabilities, to
Move freely without bumping into
objects or other people
Choose and replace materials on their
Take part in activities that support
development in all domains
Materials and equipment that support
Respond to a range of skills and
Reflect and support children's
cultures and home language
Offer challenges that are not too
difficult for frustrating
Encourage exploration and
Can be used in different ways by
Can be adapted for children with
activities can support individualizing by allowing children to:
Choose which materials to use
Decide how they want to use the
Take part at their own skill and
Choose to participate or not to
Express their own ideas and feelings
can support individualizing when it:
Responds to teachable moments
Reflects children's needs and
Adult interactions with children should
match each child's need for guidance, adaptations, support, and encouragement.
It is important to observe children to learn when and how to interact with them
in ways that foster growth and development.
Developmentally Appropriate Practices Support Individualizing
In most instances, individualizing takes
place when staff and families use developmentally appropriate practices.
For example, if a child seems ready to learn to ride a tricycle, staff and the
family can work together to provide the tricycle and a place to ride it, offer
encouragement, and build on the child's interest.
Many practices typically used by staff and
families reflect an individualized approach. For example staff and
Provide materials such as blocks, pots
and pans, and dress-up clothes that children can use in different ways and
according to their abilities, interests, and skills
Introduce new materials and activities
in response to children's changing needs, interests, and skill levels
Offer outdoor play opportunities in an
environment that includes a variety of equipment and activity choices
Plan small group activities that
include built-in opportunities for children to decide how they want to
Reflect the children's cultures and
home languages in play materials, songs and stories, books and tapes,
activities, labels, and signs
Use a flexible approach to routines
and transitions so that a child can eat when hungry or finish a painting
before getting ready for the next activity
Include large blocks of time in the
daily schedule when children can decide what to do, what materials and
equipment to use, and with whom to play
Use positive guidance techniques that
match a child's temperament and ability to use self-control
Tailor the level of encouragement and
support in response to each child's ability to handle frustration and
Head Start staff and families probably use
many of these practices and others that respond to each child as an individual.
It is important to adapt the curriculum to fit the needs of the child, rather
than expect young children to change so that they will fit the curriculum.
Children with Disabilities
Head Start is committed to including
children with disabilities in all aspects of the program. Staff work with
families, the education coordinator, the disabilities services coordinator, the
Local Education Agency (LEA) or early intervention program representative,
specialists, and other consultants to make adjustments that allow children to
learn in the least restrictive environment and to provide materials that
encourage the child's development. Here are examples of accommodations to
the environment, materials, and equipment that specialists such as occupational
or physical therapists might recommend:
Adjust tables so that wheelchair arms
fit underneath. If tables are not adjustable, raise legs by placing
blocks under them, shorten legs by sawing off pieces, or exchange tables
with another group. If tables are raised, provide tall stools so that
other children can also sit comfortably.
Use bolster, wedges, or platforms,
indoors and outdoors, to increase the comfort of children with mobility
Use puzzles with knots for children
with fine motor impairments.
Use large-sized books and magnifying
glasses for children with visual impairments.
Place items on the floor or ground for
children whoa re most comfortable at this level.
Arrange the furniture and equipment so
that there is sufficient space for a child to turn and maneuver a wheelchair
or walk with crutches.
Provide eating utensils with special
grips and edges. Offer alternatives to water fountains (such as
drinking water dispensers).
Apply masking tape to brush handles
and crayons or insert handles through a slit in a small rubber ball so that
children can get a firm grip.
Make a book of textured fabrics to
provide tactile experiences.
Adjust easel heights to accommodate
Provide a ramp leading from indoor to
outdoor areas for children who use wheelchairs or who cannot easily use
Provide computer adaptations such as
voice-activated programs fro children who have problems with manual
Install a visual system, such as
flashing lights, that can be used to get the attention of a child who has a
Use containers mounted on legs and
hand-held tools for gardening so that children with mobility impairments can
plant, weed, and pick crops.
Specialists might also recommend specific
accommodations related to the schedule, routines and transitions, and
interactions with children. Such accommodations should be tailored to
address the goals in a child's Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP) or
Individual Education Program (IEP).
Individualizing is an integral part of
Individualizing elements of a child's developmental program would include
3. An example of a developmentally
supportive practice to support individualizing would be
Which item listed below would
not be considered appropriate for
inclusion of children with disabilities?
After completing this instrument, provide your Staff ID number, click you work
"content area" and "job location". Forward to the Training Department. Your name
is verification that you have read and understood the content of this module
and have completed this learning program in good faith, and are
willing to practice the principles outlined.