Routines in Early Intervention

Little boy happy while getting dressed by his mom on couch, smile and looking at camera

Early intervention (EI) services are provided by a team, including parents. Once the individualized family service plan (IFSP) is in place, EI providers begin services to address the identified outcomes. EI visits usually last only an hour, so most of the intervention is done by parents and other caregivers without the providers present. Parents might often wonder how they can continue and support the work of the EI providers after the visit ends. At the end of a visit, families can request a visit report that outlines the activities that were done during the visit. This report may also include ways that the activities can be practiced during the family’s daily routines.

There are several questions parents can ask providers to help get started:

  • When can I work on this outcome/skill during my day?
  • What can I do to support my child?
  • What materials will I need, if any?

It might also be helpful for the team to record this information so it can be referenced between visits. One way to do this would be to list all of the routines that the family would use and then outline the strategies that can be addressed during each routine. The chart below outlines possible strategies that can be incorporated into different routines.

 MealsDiaper ChangesLaundry
LanguageWork on signs: more, eat, drink, pleaseIdentify body parts: nose, ears, eyes, etc.Identify items: socks, shirt, pants
Fine motorPincer grasp to pick up finger foods, hold cups; practice using utensilsPlay with toys; practice using zippers and large buttonsLet child try to put on socks or other clothes
Gross motorPractice pull to stand, climbing into high chair (with close supervision)Rolling, transition to sitting, stretchingPush basket, pull to stand by overturned basket, toss socks into basket
Social/emotionalPeek-a-boo with wash cloth or cloth napkinTalk about what you’re doing and what you’ll do next.Talk about the clothes as you fold them
SensoryOpportunities to play with food; finger paint with applesauce or puddingTalk about the cool wipes or the texture of the clothesTalk about the texture of the clothes: soft, scratchy, smooth, rough

Adapted from “Embedding Strategies into Family Routines: One PT’s Perspective (Part 2)

This process is called embedding strategies into daily routines. By asking yourself the above questions, you will soon be able to find strategies and activities that are appropriate for your child and family. With enough practice and planning, this may even become a natural part of your daily routine!

Publication date: 2016     Reviewed: 2023
Originally published in the EIC Newsletter: Volume 28, Issue 4