Natural Environments


This topical guide will introduce you to important books, videos, and information resources available from the EI Clearinghouse and other sources.

Contact us via online form or by phone (1-877-275-3227) to request a resource listed below (or ask your local public librarian). Note that some videos may be viewed online, and journal titles will take you to the publisher’s homepage.

boy playing outdoors with box

Early intervention (EI) services for children with disabilities used to be provided in an office, clinic, or a special center. Now, by law, children from birth to 36 months who have or are at risk for developmental delays are entitled to receive EI services in their natural environments. Natural environments are settings that include the same activities and routines in which children of similar ages without disabilities take part. The activities might take place at home or other places the family and the child go during the course of their every­day lives. An EI service provider helps parents adapt daily routines and activities.


Environment:  Promoting Meaningful Access, Participation, and Inclusion (DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series No. 2)
Tricia Catalino and Lori Meyer (Eds.)
Division for Early Childhood, 2016
This book offers professionals and families multiple ways to implement the environment practices across the settings in which children grow and learn.
Call#: LC 4019.3 .D641 2016 Vol.2

Family-Centered Early Intervention : Supporting Infants and Toddlers in Natural Environments
Sharon Raver
Brookes Publishing, 2015
Offers recommended practices for family-centered, evidence-based intervention and team collaboration to ensure the best possible outcomes for infants and young children involved in early intervention programs.
Call#: LC 4019.3 .R39 2015

Natural Environments and Inclusion
Susan Rebecka Sandall & Michaelene Ostrosky (Eds.)
Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, 2000
This short book addresses the importance of natural environments and inclusion. Chapters include “It’s Only Natural…to Have Early Intervention in the Environments Where It’s Needed” and “Interest-Based Natural Learning Opportunities.” The last chapter titled “Resources within Reason: Natural Environments and Inclusion” includes lists of books, videos, and Web sites.
Call#: HQ 778.5.N285


Team Lydia Rose:  Supporting Inclusion Every Day in Every Way
16 min; online video
Desired Results Access Project, 2015
This 2-part video illustrates how inclusive practices should begin as early as possible. The first part describes Lydia Rose’s time in the NICU and her stroke at 4-months old. In the second part, Lydia Rose’s EI team members discuss inclusion, collaboration, teamwork, natural environments, coaching, and more.

Any place, any time, anywhere: Everyday learning in family, community, and classroom activities
83 min; DVD
Winterberry Press, 2009
This DVD discusses children’s learning that occurs every day as part of family life. The three-part video series focuses on learning in the natural environments of young children: the family home, the community, and the early childhood classroom.
Call#: LB 1060 .A637 2009dvd


ASHA Leader, 13: 14-21
Providing early intervention services in natural environments
Julianne Woods. (2008)
This article describes ASHA’s position on service delivery in early intervention. 

Young Exceptional Children, 5(3), 21-24
Natural Environments: A Letter from a Mother to Friends, Families, and Professionals
Lorna Mullis. (2002)
A mother of a son with Down Syndrome discusses how her family and child care providers work with him in natural environments to support his learning in daily activities. She urges other parents to keep trying until they find the right match that works for their family.


Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
Federal Requirements on Early Intervention Services in Natural Environments

Web Resources

Encouraging Development in Everyday Spaces (EIC)
A parent-friendly tip sheet created by the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse. Also available in Spanish.

Natural Environments: Where All Children Belong (EIC)
A parent-friendly tip sheet created by the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse. Also available in Spanish.

Engaging Every Child
Preschool teachers know that children develop and learn at different rates and in different ways. To engage every child, teachers pay attention to how individual children engage with the classroom environment. They also present information in multiple ways, and they offer many opportunities for children to express what they know and can do. Also in Spanish and Polish.

Family-guided Approaches to Collaborative Early-intervention Training and Services (FACETS)
This Web site features family stories, along with other information and training for supporting children’s development in natural environments. The materials were created for family members, EI service providers, and administrators.
The FACETS model consists of five discrete, replicable, and interacting components:

  • Module 1 Family-guided Activity Based Intervention (overview)
  • Module 2 Using Daily Routines as a Context for Intervention
  • Module 3 Involving Care Providers in Teaching/Learning
  • Module 4 Developmentally Appropriate, Child Centered Intervention Strategies
  • Module 5 Interagency/Interdisciplinary Team Planning and Progress Monitoring

Go Outdoors and Explore: Build Upon Young Children’s Natural Curiosity
The birds are singing and little green shoots are popping up out of the ground. Springtime has arrived in Illinois. There is new activity in our neighborhoods as people are getting out and walking their dogs, pushing babies in strollers, and holding the hands of toddlers as they make their way down the sidewalk. Also available in Spanish.

Growing Up Naturally: Early Intervention in Natural Environments
This document provides practical information and guidance for early intervention administrators, service providers and others.

Natural Environments
This page from the Early Intervention Training Program includes resources related to natural learning environments in early intervention.

Natural Environments: The Places Where Young Children Learn Best
This brochure, produced by a Parent Information Center, suggests questions that parents can ask when choosing a natural environment setting for their child.

Seven Key Principles: Looks Like/Doesn’t Look Like
This NECTAC fact sheet provides examples of what services provided in natural environments should “look like” in practice.

Related Resource(s)