A Coaching Model in Early Intervention: What’s That?

by Crystal Williams, Ed.M.

Early Intervention (EI) programs serve families of young children (birth through 36 months) who have delays and disabilities. These services are mandated by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (2004) and are required to include families in service planning and delivery. Recent movements in early intervention have emphasized caregiver coaching as an avenue for promoting family involvement and child outcomes.

In our recent webinar on March 24, as a part of the Military Family Readiness Academy 2021, panelists discussed the use of caregiver coaching strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of pandemic-related mitigations practitioners and families faced frequent, sudden, and unexpected shifts from in-person service delivery to telehealth (or live video visits). The panelists noted the ways in which they believe the coaching model supported practitioners in delivering high-quality services to children and caregivers virtually. An archived version of this panel discussion can be viewed here.

The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children released recommended practices for early childhood professionals in 2014, many of which promote family involvement in intervention. More specifically, one recommended practice states that practitioners should use coaching strategies with primary caregivers to enhance caregiver-child interactions and individualize learning opportunities for children.

What are coaching strategies?

In The Early Childhood Coaching Handbook, authors Rush and Shelden (2020) define coaching as:

An adult learning strategy in which the coach promotes the learner’s ability to reflect on his or her actions as a means to determine the effectiveness of an action or practice and develop a plan for refinement and use of the action in immediate and future situations. (p. 8)

The table below includes a description of the five coaching strategies outlined by Rush and Shelden (2020).

Image of chart
Created by C. Williams

Where can I find more information about coaching?

General EI Coaching Resources

Trainings

Video Examples