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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 3, Lesson 5

Components of Play Based Assessment

Child playing with drumsThe role of play in the development of infants and toddlers is undisputed. Much can be revealed about the developmental status of an infant and toddler through observation, assessment and evaluation of a child's play (Casby, 2003). Play lends itself to the transdisciplinary arena assessment approach advocated by Early Steps, as well as being an excellent vehicle for more informal observation processes. Play in and of itself can be the basis of a valuable context for developmental assessment. According to Casby, play activities, behaviors and interactions are very often some of the only performances available for observation of infants and toddlers suspected of having a developmental delay.

Systematic play based assessment procedures have been developed to provide early interventionists with structured tools to assess play both qualitatively and quantitatively. There are five basic components of play based assessment (Linder1990; Blasco.2001). The components and the actions of team members are:

Play Based Assessment Components

Components Actions of team members
1. Team selection based on child and family characteristics; team members (to include family member); defines purpose of assessment Identify and assign roles (e.g., facilitator, play facilitator)
2. Information about priorities, resources, and concerns disseminated to team members; review previous results and information Gather information related to child and family background
3. Selection of appropriate assessment materials (toys) Identify written observation format

Identify and develop activities to support the child's demonstration of skills

4. Conduct assessment Structure environment in child- and family-friendly manner

Review assessment purpose

Review team member roles

Play facilitator presents activities to the child and/or allows the child to lead the interactions

Facilitator supports family members during the assessment and/or gathers additional information from family

Team members make suggestions for additional activities

Team members record descriptive information on observation forms and record demonstration of behaviors on developmental checklists

5. Assessment staffing Include family as team member

Review past assessment data

Review information gathered during play-based assessment

Brainstorm insights and recommendations

Develop group consensus in relation to Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) goals and outcomes

Generate IFSP and/or assessment report

Adapted from Early intervention services for infants and toddlers and their families by Patricia Mulhearn Blasco (2001), Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


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