We believe parents are the experts on helping their child and also have the most impact on their child’s development. That is why ECI providers use a coaching approach to work with families when delivering early intervention services. During the coaching process, parents become equipped to teach their child new skills by learning from the ECI professional’s expertise and also by using their life experiences and providing input to the professional on what works for their child and their family’s daily activities and routines. Services are individualized to reflect the family’s preferences, learning styles and cultural beliefs.
ECI provides services in places where the child typically spends time. ECI also guides parents on how to use everyday activities to help their child learn and grow through regular and ongoing interactions, because research shows that young children learn best from the people they spend the most time with, like parents and other family members.
What Families Need to Know
Coaching helps you support your child’s learning and development. Coaching has five steps (PDF) — joint planning, observation, action and practice, reflection and feedback — that guide interaction between you and the ECI provider. Your ECI provider will use all of these steps during each visit, and some steps may be repeated many times.
How Coaching Helps Parents and Caregivers
There are many benefits to using a coaching approach in early intervention. Research has shown coaching to be effective in helping children meet developmental goals.
Coaching helps parents and primary caregivers:
- Develop skills to interact with their child in ways that support the child’s development.
- Understand the reason for and impact of these interactions.
- Identify strategies that can be used in daily routines, practice strategies in front of the provider, reflect on interactions with their child, problem-solve challenges and receive supportive feedback.
- Develop the skills and confidence to use the strategies and interventions on their own, so they can help their child learn new skills even when the ECI provider isn’t there.
Coaching and Child Care Providers
ECI uses a coaching approach for service delivery that focuses on guiding parents and caregivers in the use of strategies that address developmental needs by incorporating learning and skills-building opportunities into everyday activities. It’s important to be familiar with the five steps of the coaching approach (PDF) because ECI providers will use this approach to deliver services in your classroom. Contact your local ECI program to learn more.
Coaching and Health and Medical Professionals
As a health and medical professional, it is important that you are familiar with how ECI delivers services and the benefits of a coaching approach.
Coaching allows ECI providers to guide parents and caregivers in the use of strategies and activities that address developmental needs by incorporating learning and skills-building opportunities into everyday routines. Research has shown coaching to be effective in helping children meet developmental goals. Read about ECI Information for Health and Medical Professionals.
Coaching and Telehealth
ECI services can be provided through audio-video conferencing over a phone or computer. This is called telehealth, and it allows the parent or primary caregiver to:
- Learn techniques so they can be the primary teacher for the child in building new skills to help the child develop.
- Receive ECI services when the provider can’t come to the home.
- Practice learning activities in a place that is comfortable for the parent or primary caregiver while the ECI provider offers suggestions, coaching and support.
Benefits of telehealth include:
- Fewer people coming into the home, resulting in less exposure to germs.
- Flexible scheduling, making it easier to target times of the day when more help is needed, such as meals or nap time.
- Both parents and/or caregivers may be able to participate from different locations.
Since telehealth relies on ECI providers teaching parents and caregivers remotely, the coaching approach is consistently used in telehealth. Each ECI program may offer different services through telehealth. Contact your local ECI program to learn about what telehealth services are available in your area.
What Parents Say
ECI flipped my initial thoughts about telehealth. At first I was very skeptical, but there is no better way to know that it truly works than by seeing the improvement of your child from one visit to the next. Also, I feel telehealth makes you be a lot more involved and hands-on since it is you and your baby so they are more responsive to us as parents and there is a deeper bond and since we do everything at the visit it automatically carries on to all of the daily routines, which makes the changes dramatic and very noticeable quickly. Very happy and appreciative therapy was not stopped during this hard time and opened up a new way of teaching us parents how to work with them despite unfortunate situations.
–Joselyn Martinez, mom
My son Camden has torticollis and plagiocephaly, and he was doing very good. I was worried since it was going to be through telehealth that we wouldn’t be able to achieve the success that we needed to. Elaine made it far easier than I could have imagined, and we’ve far exceeded my expectations of online therapy. She taught many strategies, and Camden along with myself caught onto them quickly and was able to implement them into our everyday lives and help him grow and learn throughout this process. Let me tell you — he absolutely loves therapy days! I have no doubt within the next few weeks he’ll be able to sit up on his own.
–Brandon and Stephanie, parents