Intentional Instruction within Routines

The INSPIRE ACTION framework was developed to assist those responsible for administrative oversight of local early childhood special education programs to identify and celebrate strong program components and to identify those program components most in need of improvement. The development was sparked by recognition that many local program leaders (e.g., Directors of Special Education, elementary principals, some special education coordinators) have limited knowledge of early childhood special education and are unable to consistently determine the presence or absence of ECSE program quality.

As you look at the resources and tools provided here, consider:
  • What is the main focus and purpose of each resource?
  • How does this information align with what you currently know and do in your work with young children and families?
  • How will you integrate this information into your work?
  • How might you share or apply this information in working with: Children? Families? Colleagues?


Intentional instruction within routines requires providers to identify naturally occurring activities, routines and transitions when intervention procedures designed for teaching a child’s IEP/IFSP outcomes can be intentionally implemented throughout the day in the home, classroom and center or community.

Professional Standards

DEC Recommended Practices
DEC Recommended Practices are a DEC initiative that bridges the gap between research and practice, offering guidance to parents and professionals who work with young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPs)
The ECIPs are Minnesota’s early learning standards. Revised and expanded in 2016, these standards are a framework for a common set of developmentally appropriate expectations for children ages birth to kindergarten, within a context of shared responsibility for helping children meet these expectations. The ECIPs are aligned to the Minnesota Kindergarten Academic Standards.

Foundational Resources: Understand the Basics

Alaska Staff Development Network - Intentional Instruction Guide (2013)
When working with preschool-aged children, teachers face the challenge of creating a single lesson that will be interesting and relevant to a wide variety of learners while addressing common early learning outcomes. The Intentional Instruction Guide offers a framework for addressing multiple needs, interests, and abilities within the same common activity using developmentally appropriate and intentional instruction strategies. Moreover, the guide serves as a tool for planning, delivering, and revising specific “dosages” of instruction across the typical preschool routine. Please note: MN CoE and MDE are not promoting the purchase of the “Big Ideas” resource referenced within the framework, but rather, acknowledging the guidance/approach the framework provides. - Individualizing Instruction in Preschool Classrooms (2010)
This article describes teaching techniques that ALL preschool teachers can use to support the learning needs of all children with whom they work, including young children with disabilities and special needs in order to support effective inclusion.

MDE ECIPS Practice Briefs
The Practice Briefs, created as companions to Minnesota’s 2016 ECIPs, are short, targeted information briefs designed to help early childhood professionals expand usage and application of the early learning standards to increase support for children and their families.

  • #1 - ECIPs as the Foundation for the Intentional Teaching Process
  • #2 - Using the ECIPs to Support the Learning of All Children
  • #6 - Using the ECIPs in Play
  • #7 - Using ECIPs in Lesson Plans

Readiness Resources: Deepen Knowledge and Prepare to Implement

ECTA training package - Developing High-Quality, Functional IFSP Outcomes and IEP Goals
This training package helps early intervention and early childhood special education providers understand the connection between writing functional assessment, writing IFSP outcomes and goal statements that are meaningful for families, and measuring child outcomes. Participants using these materials will understand the relationships among assessment, identifying goals, and implementing the strategies used to achieve positive outcomes.

MN CoE Online Modules: Understanding Age Expectations – Birth to 3 & 3-5
These modules have been created to support practitioners in applying typical development expectations over functional outcomes as they go through the COSF process. The modules may be used for self-study, and additional materials are designed with team trainings in mind.

Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center - Highly Individualized Teaching and Learning
This series of 15-minute covers various aspects of curriculum modifications and embedded learning.

Implementation Resources: Apply and Practice

Connect Module – Embedded Interventions
This module explains the meaning of embedded interventions to promote participation in inclusive settings, and presents a decision-making process designed to help a child participate more fully in an inclusive setting through embedded interventions.

Iris Center Module - Early Childhood Behavior Management: Developing and Teaching Rules
This module, a DEC-recommended resource, includes information on how to create developmentally appropriate behavior rules for early childhood classrooms so that they link to a given school's behavior expectations. The importance of communication with families about rules and expected behaviors is also stressed.

Embedded instruction involves multiple, brief teaching interactions between a teacher and child during everyday classroom activities. By identifying functional behavior targets, selecting classroom activities best suited for embedded learning opportunities, and using planned and intentional instructional strategies, teachers can help children learn new behavior for participating in classroom activities throughout the day. 

When teachers of young children identify specific behavior or skills they want a child to learn, they can use systematic instruction practices to teach those targeted skills. By carefully planning and intentionally using teacher-directed instruction strategies, teachers can help a child learn new behavior continue to use the behavior over time, and use the behavior in different activities and with different people.  

Naturalistic instruction practices are used during everyday classroom activities to support and encourage child engagement in child-initiated activities and child behavioral elaborations in the activities. Teachers can promote child participation and learning in everyday classroom activities by providing interest-based activities, responding positively to children’s initiations, and interacting in ways that encourage children to build on and expand their current capabilities.

Extending Practice: Resources for Family Engagement

ECTA  - Learning Way briefs and Companion Videos

This resource, designed for parents, helps everyone in understanding  how learning opportunities can be embedded in everyday activities at home or in the community to help children learn new things.

Extending Practice: Resources

Minnesota ECIPS - #3 - Dual Language Learners
As professionals in early childhood programs and educational systems implement the ECIPs and work toward high quality services to improve child outcomes, they must consider recommendations for using the ECIPs effectively with all children, including dual language learners.

PDF-Guided Resources and Support

Please contact your regional PDF if you have investigated all resources provided here, but continue to have questions or concerns related to this core component of INSPIRE ACTION.

If you have an additional resource that supports professional development in this core component, please share it with your regional PDF. Your participation in this site's continued growth is encouraged and welcome!