Natural Environments Support Early Intervention Services

Happy child having fun to ride on swings when mother pushing her swings

Pacer Center

All young children tend to thrive when they’re in familiar surroundings and with the people and objects that are most dear to them. For young children with disabilities, those reassuring surroundings are an essential part of their early intervention services. Called “natural environments,” they’re where children can practice new skills and reap the full benefits of professional intervention services.

Natural environments are more than people, places, and objects. They’re an essential part of your child’s right to inclusive early childhood special education services under Part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Many parents wonder what natural environments are, how they can help their child, and what role the parent plays. Here are answers to some common questions.

What is a Natural Environment?
A natural environment is any place your child and family live, learn, and play. It includes:

Settings, such as your home, backyard, or place of work. Settings also include places such as a child-care site, relative’s home, park, grocery store, or library.

Materials, which can be anything found in your child’s physical environment— toys, rocks, books, swings, grass, spoons, a high chair, or a favorite wagon.

People, such as parents, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers, or anyone else with whom your child might interact.

Activities that incorporate the interests and routines of your child and family. These might be daily activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing; recreation such as playing, reading, walking, camping, swimming, and going to the playground; and community participation such as going to worship, celebrating holidays, taking part in cultural practices, going to the grocery store, and riding in different forms of transportation.

Read more. Pacer Center.