Refining Priorities and Strategies
The family and EI professional braid together the previously described practices… • Interacting and observing naturally • Uncovering family’s intentions • Revealing priorities and strategies to further explore how the family uses, revises, and generalizes strategies for their priorities at that time.
Why Refine Priorities and Strategies?
  • To honor and respond to family priorities and perceptions of strategy effectiveness, both of which may change at any time.
  • To take time to discuss strategies that are working well, giving equal weight to them, as those that are tweaked or new strategies so families affirm their strengths.
  • To utilize professional input as a trusted other by asking questions, reflecting on responses, and connecting strategies to family priorities.
  • To discuss family priorities together as all are part of a larger family vision and strategies can meet more than one priority.
  • To address concerns as they emerge in the discussion of strategy effectiveness as part of being a parent who helps their child learn, rather than the EI professional asking for and the family responding with concerns.

Bonnie, Carol, and Kerry discuss what it means to Refine Priorities and Strategies. They talk about how this approach is dynamic and different from usual intervention practices and the mindset needed to do so.

How are we using the practices we've already used?

At the beginning of the family-professional partnership, the previously described practices occur separately to really get to know the family and create a preliminary plan. Afterwards, we (family and EI professional) refine our focus (i.e., priorities) and ways (i.e., strategies) to meet that focus as the family interacts with their child as they usually do (i.e., naturally). We (family and EI professional) do this by:

  • Identifying a strategy the family is using in the moment
  • Discussing the individual strategy and its effectiveness
  • Deciding whether to:
    • Affirm the strategy as currently effective
    • Tweak the strategy to make it more effective by
      • Generalizing across more/different contexts
      • Using more often within one context
      • Exploring when to use the strategy and when not use the strategy
      • Adjusting the specific strategy
    • Identify a new strategy as needed
  • Trying out any tweaked or new strategies

Once the family and EI professional work through this for one strategy, another strategy is identified during the natural interaction and observation, and the process starts again.

What MINDSET do families and professionals have to refine priorities and strategies?

  • The professional role is to be a developmental support versus “fixing” the child or family.
  • The family is indeed helping their child learn and has particular strategies they may not realize.
  • The professional identifies different strategies observed, whether or not they think those strategies are effective. That’s the start of intervention.
  • The professional avoids judging strategy effectiveness altogether and suspends interpretation of strategies until the family’s reasons are learned.

Want to learn more about these practices? Check out the Family Strengths in Constructing Learning Experiences

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