A to Z’s of Early Childhood

The Science of Child Development and Learning

I is for Inclusion

Promoting Access and Participation in Early Learning for All Children

Early childhood inclusion involves making sure all young children have access to and are able to participate in a broad range of activities within their families, communities, and society.1 Access means children have opportunities to learn in multiple places (e.g., at home, in early education and care programs, or at the grocery store) and in the routines and activities that occur in these places. Participation means children are fully engaged in these routines and activities. Some children need extra support to access and participate in everyday routines and activities.

Embedded instruction2,3 is a recommended approach that uses the 3R’s of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines ™ to help children learn the skills they need to access and participate fully in everyday activities.4,5,6

Parts of Embedded Instruction

Research shows there are four important parts of embedded instruction that promote inclusion.2,3

Part 1. What to teach

Consider and teach skills children need or that will help them participate in everyday routines and activities. Teaching children skills in places where they occur ensures they will learn to use the skills where and when they are needed.2,3

See Example Skills and Routines

Part 2. When to teach

Consider which everyday activities or routines provide natural or logical opportunities for children to practice the skills they need to learn at home, in the classroom, or in the community. Teaching skills during everyday routines and activities gives children repeated practice opportunities. It also helps children participate more fully in the activity or routine with others.2,3

Learn more about routines
Learn More About Repeated Opportunities to Practice Skills Within Routines

Part 3. How to teach

Plan and arrange for embedded learning opportunities to happen within an activity or routine. Embedded means learning opportunities occur in everyday routines and activities. Only providing access to a routine or activity might not be enough to help children learn the skills they need to participate.6,7 Some children need more practice, which requires careful planning to ensure they receive repeated embedded learning opportunities.

If the child is not able to use the skill successfully the first time, it is important to give extra help so he or she can be successful. When the child uses the skill successfully, it is important to provide a positive response, like describing what the child did, giving positive attention, or giving the child access to something he or she enjoys or wants.2,3,8

Learn More About Creating Embedded Learning Opportunities

Part 4. How to evaluate

Keep track of how many embedded learning opportunities a child receives and whether the child is learning the skills he or she is practicing.2,3 Tracking the child’s use of the skills you are embedding in everyday places, routines, and activities helps you know when it is time to teach something new or if the child needs more help to participate fully at home, in the classroom, and in the community.2,3

What We Are Doing

The Anita Zucker Center and our collaborators are helping families and practitioners learn how to use embedded instruction to promote children’s access and participation in everyday places, routines, and activities at home, in early learning programs, and in the community. 

Learn More:

Center Resources

Other Resources

Articles by Center Members and Other Collaborators

  • Salisbury, C., Woods, J., Snyder, P., Moddelmog, K., Mawdsley, H., Romano, M., & Windsor, K. (2017). Caregiver and provider experiences with coaching and embedded intervention. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 38(1), 17-29. doi:10.1177/0271121417708036
  • Snyder, P., & Hemmeter M. (2018). Maximizing contextually relevant learning opportunities through embedded instruction, DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series No. 4: Instruction.
  • Snyder, P., & Hemmeter M. (2018). Embedded practices and intervention with caregivers (EPIC): Linking instruction and family capacity-building recommended practices, DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series No. 4: Instruction.
  • Snyder, P., Hemmeter, M. L., Mclean, M., Sandall, S., Mclaughlin, T., & Algina, J. (2017). Effects of professional development on preschool teachers’ use of embedded instruction practices. Exceptional Children, 84(2), 213-232. doi:10.1177/0014402917735512
  • Snyder, P., Rakap, S., Hemmeter, M. L., Mclaughlin, T. W., Sandall, S., & Mclean, M. (2015). Naturalistic instructional approaches in early learning. Journal of Early Intervention, 37(1), 69-97. doi:10.1177/1053815115595461


  1. Division for Early Childhood, & National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute.
  2. Snyder, P., Hemmeter, M. L., McLean, M., Sandall, S., McLaughlin, T., & Algina, J. (2018). Effects of professional development on preschool teachers’ use of embedded instruction practices. Exceptional Children, 84, 213-232. doi.org/10.1177/0014402917735512
  3. Snyder, P., Hemmeter, M.L., McLean, M.E., Sandall, S., & McLaughlin. (2013). Embedded instruction to support early learning in response-to-intervention frameworks. In V. Buysse & E. S. Peisner-Feinberg (Eds.), Handbook of response-to-intervention in early childhood (pp. 283-300). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  4. Division for Early Childhood. (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education 2014. Retrieved from http://www.dec-sped.org/recommendedpractices
  5. Snyder, P., Rakap, S., Hemmeter, M.L., McLaughlin, T., Sandall, S., & McLean, M. (2015). Naturalistic instructional approaches in early learning: A systematic review. Journal of Early Intervention, 37, 69-97. doi: 0.1177/1053815115595461
  6. Carta, J., & Snyder, P. (2019). Fifty years of research on children with disabilities and their families: From changing behaviors to transforming lives. In B.H. Wasik & S.L. Odom (Eds.). Celebrating 50 years of child development research: Past, present, and future perspectives (pp. 235-254). Baltimore: Brookes.
  7. Carta, J., Schwartz, I. S., Atwater, J. B., McConnell, S. R. (1991). Developmentally appropriate practice: Appraising its usefulness for young children with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 11, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1177/027112149101100104
  8. Barton, E., Bishop, C., & Snyder, P. (2014). High quality instruction through CLTs: Blending intentional teaching with embedded instruction. In K. Pretti-Frontczak, J. Grisham-Brown, & L. Sullivan (Eds.). Blending practices for all children (Young Exceptional Children monograph series No. 16) (pp. 73-96). Los Angeles, CA: The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.

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The complete 3R’s of Early Learning downloadable video recordings (including the A to Z’s of Early Childhood) for use in the field of childhood development to facilitate learning are available for purchase.

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