Beacons of Excellence Project

In our Beacons of Excellence project (OSEP), we observed adult-child interactions between 50 infants and toddlers and their caregivers monthly and found that in community-based child care, caregivers only rarely talked to children and consequently, children spent very little time communicating. When we analyzed occasions when children did communicate, we found that child communication was closely associated with adults’ use of strategies such as commenting and labeling, using open-ended questions, and imitation. Those strategies identified in our prospective research were generally the same strategies included in naturalistic milieu and responsive teaching approaches that have extensive evidence supporting their efficacy from research groups across the nation. Based on that work, we developed a manualized set of strategies and an intervention approach for increasing children’s expressive communication skills (Walker, Small, Bigelow, Kirk, & Harjusola-Webb, 2004).

Walker, D., Harjusola-Webb, S., Small, C., Bigelow, K., & Kirk, S. M. (2005). Forming research partnerships to promote communication of infants and young children in child care. Young Exceptional Children Monograph Series, 6, 69 – 81.