Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention: Guidelines for Developing a Meaningful Curriculum for Young Children (Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment & Transdisciplinary)

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9781557661302: Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention: Guidelines for Developing a Meaningful Curriculum for Young Children (Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment & Transdisciplinary)
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Extends the presentation made in Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment (Linder, 1990), translating principles into intervention strategies and techniques for facilitating cognitive, social-emotional, communication and language, and sensorimotor development. Comb binding. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

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About the Author:

Dr. Toni Linder is Professor Emeritus in the Child, Family, and School Psychology Program at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Linder has been a leader in the development of authentic assessment for young children and is known for her work on Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment and Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention (1990, 1993, 2008). In addition, she developed Read, Play, and Learn (1999), an inclusive, literature and play-based curriculum for preschool and kindergarten learning and development. She consults nationally and internationally on assessment, intervention, early childhood education, program development, and family involvement issues. Dr. Linder has conducted research on a variety of issues, including transdisciplinary influences on development, parent-child interaction, curriculum outcomes, and using technology for professional development in rural areas.

In 2012 Dr. Linder formed Early Learning Dynamics LLC to serve as a platform for her continuing consulting, curriculum development, and play-based assessments. Dr. Linder will use Early Learning Dynamics to serve children worldwide.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpted from Chapters 1 and 2 of Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention, Second Edition by Toni W. Linder, Ed.D., with invited contributors.

Copyright © 2008 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

In Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment, Second Edition (TPBA2), a vignette was presented that illustrated the traditional and TPBA approaches from the child’s point of view. In the following vignette, the difference between traditional intervention and transdisciplinary Play-Based intervention (TPBI2) is presented from the child’s point of view. Because intervention at home and at school or child care may look very different, both situations are exemplified. Note that the role of the child, the therapist, and parent or teacher is similar in both settings, but very different depending on the approach.


Imagine yourself as a 2 1/2-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and overall developmental delays. You are sitting on your Mommy’s lap looking at pictures in a book when the doorbell rings. Mommy puts you down on the floor and goes to answer the door. She smiles and tells Rosa to come in. Rosa brings in her bag of toys and you smile at her too. You know what is in that bag. Rosa has fun toys! You crawl over to the bag and try to get into it. Rosa and Mommy are talking about you and what you have been doing all week. You start pulling out Rosa’s toys, looking for the one that has lights and makes noises. Oh, here it is! You start banging on it, trying to make it go. Rosa pushes the button for you. Mommy sits in her chair and watches you play with Rosa. Rosa takes out another toy, the one with rings you put on a stick. This is not your favorite toy. It is hard. So you go back to the first toy and bang on it some more. Rosa gets the “doughnuts†again and helps you put them on the stick. Rosa then gets out markers and paper and puts them on the coffee table. She tries to get you to stand up and come play with the markers. She helps you stand and hands you the marker. You bang the marker on the paper a couple of times and then sit down. Standing up is hard and writing is not fun. You crawl over to Mommy so she will pick you up, but instead, Mommy says, “I’ll let you two play for a while. I need to clean up the kitchen while you guys are busy.†Mommy leaves the room. You try to follow her, but Rosa pulls you back and hands you another toy. Okay. Playing is fun. You stay in the living room and play on the floor until Rosa packs up her toys to leave. Mommy comes back and tells her, “See you in a couple of weeks.†Rosa says, “Maya will be out next week to work on some of his motor issues.†I’m not nuts about Maya. She makes me do hard things.


You are sitting on your Mommy’s lap looking at pictures in a book when the doorbell rings. Mommy puts you down on the floor and goes to answer the door. She smiles and tells Rachel to come in. Rachel talks to me and plays with me with my favorite pop-up toy, while she asks Mommy about our week and what was fun and what was hard. Mommy says she is having trouble getting her work done at home, because I need attention and lots of help. It’s true. I like my Mommy to spend time with me! Rachel asks what Mommy would like to be doing right now, and she says, “I really need to be cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast and lunch. It’s one o’clock, and I can’t seem to get time to do what I need to do. It’s better on the days that he goes to child care. I get a little time to myself.†Rachel says, “Then let’s go into the kitchen and look at how Sam can help out and learn some new skills!†We all go into the kitchen, which (Mommy is right) is a mess! Rachel says, “Let’s see. We want him to be motivated to stand independently, to be able to use two hands together, to learn some useful new words, and to entertain himself independently. Right?†“Especially, that last one!†my Mommy laughs. “Okay. Let’s think about this for a minute,†Rachel says. “What in this room does Sam like?†Mommy laughs, “Aside from food? He loves water.†(She’s right about that!) “He likes getting into my cupboards and pulling things out!†(She’s also right about that!) Rachel says, “Let’s let him help with washing dishes.†Rachel looks around then goes into the living room, comes back with my little plastic table and cube chair, and puts the table up against the wall. “This way,†she says, “the table is stabilized and Sam can pull up on it without pushing it away. Do you have a plastic tub or pot we can put some water in?†I crawl over to see what Mommy is doing in the cupboard, and I see lots of fun pots and pans. “Let’s let him pick one,†Rachel says. “That lets him make choices and be independent.†“Sam, get a pan out.†No problem there. I pull out a big one in front. Rachel says, “How about some spoons and stuff like that?†Mommy opens a drawer and I pull up to stand and look inside. “Great!†Rachel says, “He wants to see in the drawer. That’s a great way to motivate him to pull to stand!†Mommy lets me pull out a few things and throw them on the floor, then she shuts the drawer. Rachel puts water in the pan, shows me, and takes it to my little table. “Wawa!†I shout and crawl to the table. “Yes, Sam. It’s water. Come help Mommy clean the dishes.†I pull up and reach for the water. Rachel moves the chair so I can sit down by myself. Mommy brings over the stuff I threw on the floor and puts them in the pot of water. I reach in and get a spoon and start playing. Rachel asks Mommy for a sponge and then shows me how to squeeze the sponge. It’s hard, but I like watching the water come out. She shows me how to wipe the spoon. Hey, this cleaning is fun!

Rachel says, “Okay. Now that he’s cleaning, we can start.†Mommy and Rachel go to the sink and Mom puts water in the sink and starts to wash her dishes. Rachel tells her about how to “model†for me, says, “Sam, spoon,†when we are washing spoons, and tells Mommy to give me something new to wash when I get bored. I’m not bored, though. I love playing in the water. Mommy keeps showing me what she is washing, then tells me it’s my turn to wash. I show her how to squeeze the sponge. Mommy says, “Great, Sam. You are such a big helper.†I really am! Mommy and Rachel and I are talking while Mommy and I are washing dishes. When we are all done, Mommy lets me use my sponge to clean up my “mess.†Mommy laughs and tells Rachel that maybe she’ll have me help put the clothes in the washer and dryer too. Rachel says that that is a terrific idea, because if the laundry basket is on the floor, I will need to get up and down to take out each piece and then put it in the dryer, and I’ll need to use two hands on the bigger pieces. I like taking things out and putting them in. I think we should do that now. I say, “out†and Mommy and Rachel look at each other, smile, and nod. Mommy says, “I never thought about how a ‘chore’ for me is play for him. But, this gives me all kinds of ideas about how we can do things together that will help both of us!â€


I am sitting with my friend, listening to my teacher read a book, when Miss Mary comes in to get me. She tells my teacher she’ll bring me back in time for snack. Good. I like snack, but I’d like to have heard the end of the story before we left. She carries me to her office where she has a little table and chairs. She has a doll and some cars on the table, so that looks like fun. I sit in the chair and Miss Mary asks me to show her the baby’s mouth, eyes, and nose. I point to them. “What is this?†she asks and points to the baby’s head. I tell her it’s “har.†I don’t know why we are pointing to these things. Can’t we just play with them? I start pushing the cars around and making noises like my daddy’s car. She hold up a car and says, “C–A–R. Say ‘car,’ Sam.†I try to imitate her. Then I go back to pushing the car and making car noises. Miss Mary gets out a book and starts to show me pictures in the book. She asks me what the pictures are. Doesn’t she know? After the book, Miss Mary takes me back to my class and tells me she’ll see me next week. Good. I’m back in time for snack!


Mr. Bob comes in before story time and talks to my teacher. I am sitting in my cube chair, ‘cause Mr. Bob told me and my teacher that I will be able to sit better, talk better, and pay better attention in my cube chair. I think he is right. We used to all sit on carpet squares, and I had to work so hard to sit up I couldn’t pay attention to the story or talk to the teacher! Other kids have cube chairs too, and some sit on the floor or on a special cushion. Mr. Bob brought my book for me to look at while we are listening. Mr. Bob made my book for me. It has just has three pages and they are thick pages, so I can turn them myself. This book helps me see what the teacher is talking about. We all take turns helping the teacher tell the story. Sometimes, when it is my turn to tell the story, I get to use Mr. Bob’s talking book. My teacher holds up her book, and I push the buttons on my talking book, and the book tells the story. I try to talk as much as I can. I tell my friends what I want them to shout out, like what the cow says. I like being the teacher. We do the same story every day for many days and pretty soon I know a lot of the words in the story and can tell other people what I know.

Mr. Bob stays after story time. That’s when we all have choices about what we want to do. Mr. Bob helps us tell the teacher what we want to do, and then he goes around and helps some of us. He likes to help us talk to our friends and say what we’re doing. Sometimes he uses sign language or pictures. My friend Alison has a machine that Mr. Bob helps her use. When she pushes on part of it, the machine talks for her! It is really cool. Mr. Bob is teaching my teacher (how neat is that!) how to make it talk. Sometimes Mr. Bob brings in his friends. He calls them part of his “team†to teach him what to do. There is a lot of teaching going on in this classroom!

Now it is snack time, and Mr. Bob is eating with us today. He says he is going to eat his cracker and cheese in his ear! I shout, “Mouth!†Mr. Bob says, “Stop, Bob!†He laughs, tells me ‘thank you,’ and eats it with his mouth. Good thing I told him what to do. Then he said he is going to listen to me with his nose. I laugh. Mr. Bob is so funny. Marisa tells him, “Stop, Bob!†He stops and looks at her. She points to her ear. “Ear, Bob.†I say it too. “Ear, Bob!†My teacher asks me if I want to smell the cheese and holds the cheese to my eye. Everybody laughs, and says, “Stop, Ana!†My teacher says, “Where should I hold the cheese?†Everyone shouts, “His nose!†“Nose!†I yell too. She holds it up to my nose and I smell it. It’s fun to tell the teacher what to do!

The purpose of Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention, Second Edition (TPBI2) is to present a process for planning, implementing, and evaluating intervention for children from birth to 6 years of age who need supports to enhance their development. Within TPBI, the intent is to provide a structure for that process, a framework for conceptualizing intervention strategies, and a means for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the strategies selected.


Team members in TPBI, whether the same or different from the TPBA team, work together to support the family members, care providers, and early educators who interact with the child daily. During the post-assessment planning phase, the team members listen to family members and, along with them, provide input as to what the child’s needs are, what services would best meet those needs, and what form intervention should take. Either during the post-assessment planning time or during a pre-intervention planning phase, the team moves from talk of services to a plan for implementing actual strategies. During the pre-intervention planning phase, the whole team, or possibly a couple of representatives of the team if TPBA was done in the home, meet with primary caregivers and teachers to talk about the specifics of what outcomes are desired, what functional objectives will guide intervention, and what strategies can be used across the day to support development and learning. For children in school, separate planning meetings may be held with parents and teachers, although this is not recommended because all caregivers need to be on the same page, even if issues at home and school are different. The team members help the primary caregivers think about possible outcomes and help them identify times of the day, activities, or events for which they either need intervention ideas or identify times when their positive interactions with their child are ripe for interventions to be introduced. This is a brainstorming time, and parents and teachers may agree or disagree with ideas presented, talk about what has already been tried, reveal personal struggles, and/or share their own perceptions about what strategies might work. The team’s role is to listen, support, help weigh the options, and then facilitate the development of the actual intervention plan. During the intervention phase, the role of team members varies depending on the age of the child, location of services, and level and type of strategies identified. Both for the child and the parents or teachers, the goal is to provide intervention based on the system of least support, meaning that, as much as possible, the team members play a consultation role, stepping in to provide more guidance or structure as needed. The goals for the child, parents, caregivers, and educators are independence and the ability to think for oneself and solve problems creatively and independently. Team members’ roles vary with each individual person, in accordance with their need and desire for varying levels of support. During the evaluation phase, team members provide observations, elicit parent perceptions, and try to pull together an objective view of progress and next steps.

TPBI is not like traditional therapy, in which specialists meet with a child and do hands-on, direct intervention for their areas of expertise. TPBI is a team approach, with a concerted effort made to provide holistic intervention. In an earlier analogy, the relationship between the child, family, and team was described as a wheel, with the child as the hub, the team as the spokes, and the family as the rim, holding all together and making it roll. An alternative way of perceiving the relationship might be that the child is the hub, the family members, teachers, and other significant people in the child’s life are the spokes, and the team is the rim that provides the support to the inner pieces. The rim cannot function effectively if part of it is missing or ineffective. The team must be in constant communication, support each other in many ways, and function as a unit. In short, the child, family, teachers, and team must function in a collaborative whole for intervention to be maximally effective. Most of us do not get to choose our teams, our families, or our children, but we do our best to make it all work. When intervention “works,†it does so because each member of the team contributes information, suggestions and advi...

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Toni W. Linder
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