Providing Services in Natural Learning Environments…
Research shows that young children learn best within their natural environments. A child’s natural environment may include their home, a relative’s home, community centers, daycare centers, etc. Natural learning environments give children the opportunity to learn new concepts using their own toys and resources, provides therapists with a better understanding of how the child responds to familiar circumstances, and allows learning to be implemented in the context of the child’s daily routine.
Young children are also not able to generalize new concepts as well as older children and adults. This means that a young child may be able to perform a new skill in the place where he learned the skill, but he may not be able to perform this same skill in a different environment. Children are more likely to consistently carry out newly learned skills, when skills are taught within their typical, every day, environments.
Using a Family-Centered Approach to Care…
Another important concept that optimizes a child’s development is the concept of family-centered care. A family-centered approach to care always includes the child’s caregiver/family during the testing and treatment phase of therapy. Family/caregiver concerns and desires are important and should be discussed and implemented into the child’s plan of care.
This concept also incorporates the family as an active part of each treatment session. Without family/caregiver involvement, the child’s success is dependent on a therapist, whom the child will likely work with only once or twice a week. When families/caregivers are integrated into the child’s treatment plan, children receive daily opportunities from their caregivers and are able to practice and learn new skills within their daily routines (meals, dressing, bath time, play time, academic time, etc).
At Eastern Therapy Solutions, you can expect implementation of a family-centered approach to care within a natural learning environment.
- Consistent caregiver/therapist communication
- Discussion of your child’s typical routine
- Discussion of how to incorporate new ideas into your child’s current routine
- Ideas to modify preferred activities to address specific skills
- Treatment sessions are flexible, following the child’s lead
- Play-based and routine-based interventions that could occur in the child’s kitchen, living room, playroom, outside, daycare, restaurant, via teletherapy, etc
- Modeling of caregiver/child interactions
- Opportunities for caregivers to discuss what is working and areas where they would like to see more progress
- Children will be comfortable and engaged during their therapy sessions
- You may notice progress within your child’s daily routine (participating in dressing, no longer dislike teeth-brushing, improved feeding skills, better attention during play, etc.)
- Children will learn quicker
- You will feel confident when helping your child learn and practice new skills