Early Childhood Intervention

The Role of Families in their Children’s Learning


This was a five-year project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, Early Childhood Program for Children with Disabilities and was a collaboration with the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute in North Carolina. The purpose of this study was to identify, develop, and evaluate strategies and approaches to promote and enhance the learning and development of young children with or at risk for disabilities. The focus was on identifying strategies and approaches that increased the number and intensity of home and community learning activities available for use by parents, caregivers, and community members.


  • National surveys were conducted with families that identified different categories of learning opportunities in family and community life.
  • In-depth descriptive studies were conducted with diverse families in multiple states through interviews and observations.
  • Intervention studies were conducted with diverse families in multiple states to understand how intervention activities fit into the natural learning opportunities of children and families.
  • Comparative studies were conducted to understand how to use family and community life for child learning opportunities.
  • A final study looked at ways early interventionists, early childhood educators, and therapists can increase children's learning opportunities using activities happening as part of family and community life as a form of early intervention and early childhood education.
  • Reports were created that provide information on how this research can be translated into practice.
  • Various journal articles were published on these studies, as well as a book chapter and newsletter and magazine articles.