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Birth to Kindergarten


The early years of a child’s life are a critical time for the development of emotional and intellectual skills. As they grow, children with disabilities will face many of the same challenges as their nondisabled peers. Regardless of ability level, children need to be taught information to guide them on their journey to becoming an adult.

Verbal and non-verbal communication, having a sense of responsibility and respect, decision-making, and problem-solving, are all skills that can be taught to a child, starting at an early age. These skills are not only important for academic success but increase an individual’s ability to effectively participate in the community and workforce. Parents and other caregivers play an important role in developing these basic life skills. Therefore, they must have the tools to engage children in clear and understandable learning.

Helping your child to live a self-determined life can start with teaching simple lessons in decision-making, money management, personal safety, and self-advocacy. For example, allowing young children to make their own choices about what to eat or wear may be a first step in promoting independence. In addition, you can play games that teach early math skills or read books that show how to be safe, including emergencies and how to interact with strangers. Parents and caregivers can use these tools to help their child learn about their bodies, appropriate behavior, and how to stay healthy.

It is never too early to encourage supported decision-making. Educating children with disabilities early in life increases positive outcomes in adulthood, including the ability to live an independent, person-centered, self-determined life.

This toolkit includes information and resources to assist you in fostering your child’s independence starting in early childhood.

Resources for Birth to Kindergarten