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Learning HELP: 3-6


Introduction: The term "HELP" is derived from the product "Hawaii Early Learning Profile," which was first published by VORT in 1979. The original HELP materials consisted of a profile Chart and an Activity Guide for serving children, ages birth through three years (0-3).

In 1987, VORT published Help for Special Preschoolers (for serving children 3-6 years) which was adapted from the BCP (Behavioral Characteristics Progression) developed by VORT and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.

To better link the 3-6 materials to the improved 0-3 materials, in 1995 VORT restructured the 3-6 year materials into HELP for Preschoolers to conform to the developmental Strand structure of HELP 0-3, thus offering a birth-6 years HELP behaviors/skills continuum.

In September 2010, a team of editors and reviewers completed a two-year revision of HELP for Preschoolers resulting in the new HELP 3-6 (2nd Edition) which includes an updating of the behaviors/skills (both text and ages and the removing of some skills; see page xvii if the Assessment Manual), and updating the assessment materials, procedures, and adaptations. To improve use of the materials, the assessment portion of HELP 3-6 (2nd Edition) was separated from the curriculum activities resulting in two new books, the HELP 3-6 Assessment Manual and the Curriculum Guide (2nd Editions). These new books now parallel the two books for HELP 0-3, HELP 0-3: Inside HELP and the HELP Activity Guide.

What's New: HELP 3-6 (2nd Edition) is the long-awaited update to our best-selling and formerly entitled "HELP for Preschoolers" family of curriculum-based materials. The 2nd Edition includes three new Strands (Self Regulation, Dramatic Play, Time), along with 12 new behaviors/skills, and improved age-ranges, wording, and definitions on over 100 of the behaviors/skills, the removal of some items to better align with HELP 0-3, and updating of many of the assessment procedures, adaptations, and instructional activities. Here are the new HELP 3-6 products:
  • #659—HELP 3-6 Assessment Manual (2nd Edition)
  • #658—HELP 3-6 Assessment Strands (2nd Edition)
  • #656—HELP 3-6 Activities at Home (2nd Edition)
  • #652—HELP 3-6 Curriculum Guide (2nd Edition)
  • #650—HELP 3-6 Charts (2nd Edition)
  • #651—HELP 3-6 Checklist (2nd Edition)
The combined HELP 0-6 materials cover over 1,250 unique behaviors and skills in six primary domains of: Cognitive, Language, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Social, and Self-Help. The behaviors and skills (items) are linked by unique ID numbers to over 1,800 pages of assessment, curriculum, and family support materials. The six domains have been divided into 75 developmentally-sequenced strands. Each strand includes items which focus upon a specific underlying key concept and are hierarchical in nature; i.e., one item typically leads to or builds the foundation for the next item.

The HELP materials are not standardized. No child is expected to display all the behaviors or skills nor display all behaviors and skills for an age range. Be sure to consider individual, environmental, or cultural differences for each child. The age ranges reported in HELP are the ages at which a skill or behavior (for children who do not have disabilities) typically begin to emerge according to the literature. These age ranges are not when an item begins and ends. Some behaviors/skills are time-limited and emerge into more complex behaviors/skills, while others are lifetime skills.

Sometimes a behavior or skill stretches out over several months. This is not meant to imply that the item begins and ends within the age-range time frame. The age range reflects when the item typically emerges. Since there is not always agreement in growth and development literature, approximate age ranges are offered as a guide of when you can expect an item (behavior or skill) to typically be present. A child may develop the behavior or skill at any time within the age range to be "developmentally age appropriate." Descriptions of the child's behaviors and skills are more important than age levels for understanding a child's development and determining next steps in intervention or the child's educational plan.

Age ranges for HELP 3-6 are displayed in Months as well as Year.Month, e.g., 3.10-4.4 is 3 years 10 months to 4 years 4 months. Skills listed on traditional developmental checklists and standardized tests, although generally listed in a developmental order according to age, are not generally hierarchical. Consequently, if a child passes one skill it does not necessarily mean that he is ready to learn the next skill. Conversely, if a child failed an item, this does not mean that he cannot accomplish or is not ready to learn a skill placed higher on the continuum. Without careful item analysis, it can be difficult to identify strengths and needs within a domain of development and difficult to identify "next steps" for planning. The HELP 3-6 Assessment Strands (2nd Edition) address these needs and provides an option for assessment and monitoring.

Safety First!
Although precaution and safety notes are often included for the activities, there may be some activities which are not appropriate for some children, and some which have the potential for misinterpretation. It is your professional responsibility to carefully review the appropriateness of the activities for each particular child, and to alter the activity and/or add additional safety precautions as needed. It is extremely important to use caution with the child and to supervise him carefully around sharp objects and utensils, appliances, small objects, scissors, hot water, etc.

Involve parents:
HELP 3-6 Activities at Home offers warm, at home suggestions for each skill. These are written from the child's point of view and include an Introduction to the skill, Materials in the home for teaching the skills, and Activities for the parent to follow to help the child develop the respective skill.
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Background on HELP 3-6

HELP 3-6 (formerly "HELP for Preschoolers") is a curriculum-based assessment for use with children who are developing "typically" or who may have developmental delays. It is designed to be used by those who are currently working in early childhood settings, by those who are involved in a multi-disciplinary or transdisciplinary team approach, by parents, and by those who are responsible for the early identification of children with special needs. HELP 3-6 is versatile and addresses the requirements for early childhood programs, including:

Assessment and early identification: Through parent interviews, ecological observations, and exposure to different activities in all areas of development, individuals working with preschool-aged children can get an overall picture of a child's skill levels. You can use the HELP 3-6 materials to document the child's growth and progress, both at home and in the educational setting. This can help you determine when a child is developing within the range of normal expectations - using approximate general age ranges per strand. (Note: The HELP materials are not standardized. The age ranges are provided to indicate when a skill typically emerges). You can use HELP 3-6 to record the child's development in a longitudinal manner during the preschool years (ranging from the age of three to six years). When there appear to be delays, mild or severe, it should be decided, with the parents involvement, whether the child needs to be referred to his/her local school district for a more in-depth assessment to determine eligibility for special education services according to Public Law 99-457. Early identification of young children with special needs is a goal of early childhood educators. Children with more pronounced needs, such as Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, and hearing losses, are typically identified at birth or during the first years of life. However, children with milder delays, or those who are considered to be at risk of developmental delays, often aren't identified until their preschool years or later. Early identification and intervention are important for providing children with programs that will meet their individual needs. Programs can range from a structured classroom environment, with a high teacher-to-child ratio, to full inclusion within a regular preschool program with consultation being provided to the child, family, and school staff by a special education teacher. The HELP 3-6 assessments, based on domain, goal, and skill, can be used to monitor established goals and objectives as part of a child's individual educational plan.

Program intervention and instructional teaching resource: By charting a child's developmental progress using HELP 3-6, intervention strategies can be included in the curriculum to build and expand a child's skills. The child should be taught according to his rate and style of learning within the range of normal development. HELP 3-6 provides detailed instructional activities for each skill along with suggestions for adapting activities relative to the child's experience and abilities.

Parent involvement: A high priority has been given to the goal of parent involvement. The parent needs to be introduced to the teaching concepts that can be carried over into the home setting. As the parent becomes more involved, he or she will begin to feel more competent and effective in reinforcing skills at home that have been introduced in the educational setting. The HELP 3-6 Activities at Home provides practical, home-based activities that can easily be administered by the parents or the child's home-care provider. An introduction, a short list of easy-to-assemble materials and clear, complete lists of activities is included for each skill.

Team approach and training guide: Family members, the early childhood educator, and other school personnel, along with professionals such as audiologists, social workers and therapists, constitute the team that provides comprehensive services to meet the child's unique needs. HELP 3-6 can be used by the team to chart growth, and as a training guide for persons who are new to the field of early childhood education, particularly in working with young children who are developmentally delayed or at high risk. HELP 3-6 can support early childhood teachers or administrator working with paraprofessionals, volunteers, or teachers' aides, and can be used to train staff in assessing the child's skill levels, as well as providing activities for teaching various skills. HELP 3-6 can be used as a resource for teachers whose classes include children with special needs, as well as other preschoolers. HELP 3-6 can help with inclusion as early childhood educators are required to determine levels of attainment met by a child with special needs, while at the same time assessing the skill levels of other preschool-aged children who may be at a different level of development.
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Developmental Skills/Strand Structure

The skills for HELP 3-6 are linked to those of HELP 0-3. Therefore, the skill numbers for the 3-6 skills are based on domain (e.g., Cognitive = 1.0, Language = 2.0), and the 3-6 skill numbers start where the 0-3 skill numbers end. Thus, for Cognitive, 0-3 ends with #1.159, and the first 3-6 Cognitive skill is #1.160, etc.

The age ranges provided with HELP are based upon current literature and field research. The age ranges are approximations as to when the skill "typically" emerges. The HELP materials are not standardized in keeping with current assessment guidelines. Therefore, HELP is not a formal "test" and you do not "score" a child. You use HELP to credit a child's mastery of a skill.

The activities in the Activities at Home binder are written from the child's point-of-view, which parents enjoy and which prevents any problems with gender. Some of the Instructions below are written using the male gender to avoid redundancy and confusion. No gender bias is intended.

HELP 3-6 covers 585 skills, ages 3 to 6 years. For each skill, the Assessment Manual provides:
  • Skill number and text (description) which are identical across all HELP 3-6 titles (1.160 Counts orally to 3).
  • Age range shown in both month-month(m), and year.month-year.month(y) formats (Strand: 1-10 Age: 28-36m 2.4-3y). For example, 36-46 months is 3-3.10 years (where 3.10 is 3 years, 10 months).
  • Definition: this clarifies the skill; can be adapted to serve as a basis for criteria to determine mastery.
  • Assessment Materials: for use in conducting the assessment. Play-based/activity observations are often recommended.
  • Assessment Procedure: Step-by-step methods for conducting the assessment. You are responsible for setting the criteria to determine/credit mastery (consider the Definition and Adaptations).
  • Adaptations: Techniques for adjusting the assessment and instruction to accommodate differences in children's abilities and experiences.
For each skill, tne Curriculum Guide provides:
  • Skill number and text (description) which are identical across all HELP 3-6 titles (1.160 Counts orally to 3).
  • Age range shown in both month-month(m), and year.month-year.month(y) formats (Strand: 1-10 Age: 28-36m 2.4-3y). For example, 36-46 months is 3-3.10 years (where 3.10 is 3 years, 10 months).
  • Definition: this clarifies the skill; can be adapted to serve as a basis for criteria to determine mastery.
  • Instructional Materials: For use in instruction. Includes many original fun games, fingerplays, and songs.
  • Instructional Activities: Step-by-step methods for instruction.
The skills in HELP 3-6 follow a 'normal' developmental sequence and are applicable to all children. However, four of the strands of skills are provided for use with special needs children: 2-8 Sign Language; 2-9 Speechreading; 3-8 Swimming; 3-9 Wheelchair skills. Age ranges are not provided for the skills on these four strands since the skills are often acquired at whatever age specific instruction is provided, depending on the individual child and environment (not so much a threshold age).
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Instructions - Preparing for the Assessment

Collect and review preliminary information: e.g., review current and past medical conditions that may influence the assessment through review of medical records and collaboration with the family and physician; obtain a physician's prescription for physical therapy assessment as needed if required by your state.

Review the skills and behaviors which you anticipate you will be observing or eliciting on the HELP 3-6 Strands, Checklist or Charts. This can be accomplished by identifying general developmental milestones via review of records and parent interview. Highlight several skills above and below the child's approximate developmental level.

Some skills may occur spontaneously within the classroom or home environment. By providing the child with certain materials, he/she may be naturally observed performing a specific skill that may be on the list of skills or behaviors to assess. It is important to make note of skills that are observed during everyday activities. These skills can be used to build on the next developmental skill and to indicate a starting place for intervention and further assessment opportunities. A more structured assessment period will be necessary to fully assess a child's skill levels in all the necessary areas. A sample overall format for structuring an assessment may include:

Free-play warm-up period ranging from about 10-15 minutes. Have available developmentally appropriate play materials that are likely to elicit some of the skills and behaviors that you are targeted to assess. During the initial part of this period, family members can be asked to play with their child any way they choose. During this time you can become familiar with the style and level of interaction that the child and family members are most comfortable with and begin to identify additional, more structured activities you may want to incorporate. During this free-play period you can observe family-child interactions, some of the child's toy preferences, how he solves problems, and the manner in which the child moves from one toy to another.

Structured facilitation period ranging from about 15-30 minutes. Introduce selected eliciting toys, materials and activities directly with or through the parent. This may include table top activities, drawing, looking at books, playing in a dramatic play corner, etc., depending on the skills and behaviors which you are interested in assessing. Again, although you may be targeting specific skills for assessment, be sure to capitalize on all areas of development and skills you may observe naturally during the child's play.

Movement/motor activities and play period ranging from about 10-15 minutes. Provide mats, balls, and other large play equipment dependent upon the child's age and motor abilities, such as a tunnel, things to climb on, small slide, tricycle, or balance beam. Initially, it may be helpful to observe how the child approaches and plays on the equipment before structuring eliciting situations directly with or through the parent. For children with special motor needs, adaptive devices might be necessary for some equipment.

Feeding or snack time period (about 10-20 minutes). This is an excellent opportunity to observe the child's oral motor skills, independent feeding abilities, food and texture preferences and any tactile reactions, posture during feeding, communication, and behavior. Include washing up before and after snack to observe the child's participation in washing, as well as his reactions to having his face washed. If the child is older, invite him to help clean up by wiping the table and throwing away some of the trash.

When considering a skill, review each item of information:
  • Skill Number and Text - Each skill is assigned a unique ID number that indicates the developmental domain for that skill. This skill ID number is used throughout HELP 3-6 to cross-reference assessment procedures, activities, and other skill-related information. The skills are presented in a developmental sequence within each strand. After the child has been assessed, the text of the targeted skill may then be used as an objective in his educational plan. Skills can be easily adapted to behavioral terms, which enables the teacher to select objectives to include in the child's plan or structured program.
  • Age Reference - The age references for each skill are in fact just age references and approximations of when the skill typically emerges. Because the data and research do not always agree, the placement of a skill with an age level represents current best thinking and judgment. Due to the uniqueness of each child, the placement of skills within an area does not necessarily mean that it comes before or after other skills in the same area. Every child develops at a different rate and has strengths and areas of need based on abilities, environment, and culture.
  • The use of age references enables the teacher/staff:
    (1) To approximate an individual child's progress
    (2) To assist in the evaluation of a child's strengths and areas of need
    (3) To pinpoint a beginning place for teaching and learning.
    The developmental age levels are not to be used for placement, for comparison with peers, for in-class grouping, or for setting unrealistic objectives.
  • Definition - The stated definition clarifies the listed skill. The definition includes what the child is expected to do, what the adult involved in the skill is expected to do, and any necessary description of the skill. The definition further clarifies the skill text, and can be used to create the necessary criteria for determining credit for the skill.
  • Assessment Materials - items that can be used for assessing and crediting the child.
  • Assessment Procedure - The assessments for each skill are designed to be administered by a person involved with an early childhood setting. Each assessment (level one) includes the following elements:
  • Any special conditions required for the child to perform the assessment procedures (e.g., outdoor playground).
  • Specific instruction to the person providing the assessment. It is recommended that these instructions be followed as closely as possible.
  • Any appropriate prompt(s).
  • Ways to record notations and suggestions.
The assessments have been developed to be given to an individual child; however, many can be administered to small groups of children. Some assessment procedures including Level Two strategies designed so a child may also be observed informally when he is performing the same skill during interaction with others. Criteria for the accomplishment of an assessment has not been included. Many educational settings have a predetermined criteria. However, the following are recommended for recording responses.

Group testing can make it difficult to ascertain a child's true performance since he may "echo" others, or he may refrain from responding because of peer involvement that prevents measuring his highest abilities. You may adapt any of the following as the basis for your criteria; however, be sure to record the criteria level for each skill as part of his record, and be consistent in using this criteria so that subsequent staff or a different program can understand his abilities and needs. Suggested credit codes: use + if the skill or behavior is present, - if the skill is not present, +/- if the skill appears to be emerging, A if the skill or behavior is atypical or dysfunctional, and N/A if the item is not applicable or not appropriate to assess due to disability or parent preference. Or create/adapt your own criteria; be sure to use criteria consistently across all skills for all children. Record assists under Comments, e.g., "corrects with verbal prompt."

The selection of the assessment criterion depends on many variables. These include experiences, type of children, number of children, educational settings, procedures, and time. The important issue to consider when you select an assessment recording device is that it will provide the needed information and is easy to use and manage. The length of time a child is assessed at a given setting should be decided individually. Try to limit an assessment session to a 15-minute period. The assessments have been designed to be administered in a five- to eight-minute time period.

Early childhood assessment sessions should encompass the following:
  • The assessment should be curriculum-based, observational, direct intervention, or program-based to allow for linkage to the program objectives.
  • The assessment should be relevant to the child.
  • The assessment should be sensitive to the child's progress and correlated to the curriculum. It should be broad enough to permit continuous progress.
  • The assessment should be adaptive; if it is too structured, the evaluator may tend to underestimate the child's functioning level. Obvious stimulus and response limitations must be recognized and accommodated. The assessment should stress how the child completed a task as well as whether he completed it.
  • The assessment results should be shared with the entire team. Reporting forms should be organized around the curriculum objectives; therefore, the forms should be based on the curriculum instead of on the test result. The forms should reflect a total picture of a child's performance to determine whether he should be referred for special diagnosis. To help a child to reach his optimal performance, encourage and affirm him each time he is involved with an assessment. It is up to the discretion of the person who administers the assessment to decide whether any modifications of the verbal prompts or the language are necessary. It is important to use language the child can easily understand and to accept verbal responses from him in his own vocabulary as long as his answers are in response to the assessment.
  • Assessment Adaptations - If a child does not have the prerequisite skill for an assessment procedure, he may have a problem responding to what he is asked to do. Assessment adaptations address the sub-skills he needs to have mastered before he can attempt the targeted skill or objective. The adaptations include references to other areas of HELP 3-6 that deal with these lower sequence tasks. The adaptations also provide an explanation related to the sub-skill and often some remedial procedures to help or instruct such a child.For specific conditions and handicaps that are identified, use the following suggestions to administer the assessment section:
Cognitive Delays: Use the assessment procedures as written, but modify as follows:
  • Allow additional time for responses
  • Assist with any delayed speech
  • Conduct the assessment in the environment where the activity will take place
  • Repeat the instructions simply, slowly, and more than once
  • Take the child through a procedure by talking him through the assessment, modeling the assessment, asking him to respond independently with support prompts, and finally, asking him to respond without any assistance
  • Provide positive feedback on the child's performance, e.g., "Teresa, I really like the way you're listening." or "You're really work hard Scott, keep it up!"
Speech Disorders (articulation, voice disorders, fluency): Before you give the assessment, consult the child's speech therapist for specific suggestions and assistance. Each child's speech diagnosis is particular to his condition.

Motor Involvement: The child's therapists should be involved in the planning process. If the child does not have any language or speech support, a communication system for the child must be established before he can be assessed. This could include a symbol system, electronic boards, picture representation, technology or computers. The assessment procedures of HELP 3-6 can be addressed only when a communication system for the child is operable.

Behavioral Adjustments: The assessment procedures often include common behavioral reactions. You can assess the child as the procedure directs, but modify as follows:
  • If the child's on-task behavior is a diagnosed concern, break the assessment into parts, so he interacts for only a few minutes at a time.
  • Use simple statements or role-play the directions to be sure the child understands exactly what he is expected to do during the assessment.
  • Reward the child generously for any part of the assessment he accomplishes. Provide positive reinforcement for attempting the task, for trying hard, for listening carefully, for achieving goals. Make your compliments specific. Change the tangible rewards frequently.
  • If the assessment is obviously not going to reflect the true performance of the child, stop the procedure.
Blind/Visually Impaired: Depending on the degree of the child's visual impairment, you may request assistance from a teacher of the visually impaired or an optometrist who specializes in blind/visually impaired children.

Motor Involvement To Include Dyspraxia (difficulty in motor output in performing purposeful movements). You may give most assessments as written, but modify as follows:
  • Use patterns, templates, stencils, and/or guided drawings in place of any visual-motor tasks you expect the child to do.
  • Give verbal directions for any perceptual motor components.
  • Use motor devices as structural aids, e.g., pencil grips, four-ring scissors or grip scissors, paper secured to work place.
  • When seated at a table, make sure the child's feet can be placed flat on the floor. The height of the table should be at an appropriate level.
Hearing Impaired: The child should have the support of an audiologist, a speech therapist, and a teacher of the hearing-impaired.
  • Determine which assessment skills apply to the specific hard-of-hearing child.
  • Verify what the child's communication process involves, whether total, speech, or signing; then administer the assessment in that receptive/expressive mode
Instructional Materials: including suggestions on how to make your own in-class materials.

Instructional Activities: Curriculum for young children usually involves two basic approaches:
  1. Curriculum based on children's interests: Supporters of creating instructional activities based on a child's interest generally believe that children from 3 to 6 learn through experience in their own way, style, and sequence. The aim of this approach is to provide opportunities for children to use real objects and explore in a stimulating setting. It allows children to interact with concrete items in a free selection environment. Because children in this age range have not yet fully developed abstract receptive/expressive language, users of this approach expose them to only a limited amount of teacher questioning and facts.
  2. Curriculum based on what children need to know: Supporters of creating instructional activities based on what a child needs to know, on the other hand, want a curriculum based on preparing children to function in their various real-life situations. This approach places the emphasis on a child's learning information and being able to use the acquired knowledge to operate in society.
The instructional procedures in HELP 3-6 have been designed to offer a combination of both approaches for use in early childhood programs and particularly for use with children who are at a high risk of developmental delays. The activities have been designed to keep the interest of children and to encourage them to create, explore, and interact, while at the same time providing teachers an opportunity to communicate knowledge and information. Preschool children need instructional strategies that are direct, concrete, and based on experiential interests along with planned directions and expected competencies. The instructional methodology offered through HELP 3-6 blends the two schools of thought and yields a very practical approach for meeting the needs of all preschool children. The following elements were emphasized in the development of the instructional procedures.

Early learning should enhance self-awareness and positive self-concepts.

Communication consists of expressive and receptive vocabularies; therefore, language learning leads to interpreting and expressing facts, thoughts, and feelings.

The child's sensory perceptions and motor experiences exhibit his earliest form of cognitive development. Sensory/motor involvement and activities lead to preconceptual thinking.

Social behaviors become functional as a child interacts with the environment and other persons.

Conducting the Assessment
  1. To determine where to begin the assessment process for a child, research his records and ask for observations from parents, teachers, and other persons who are directly involved with the child.
  2. Using this collected input, formulate a starting point in a developmental domain (it is recommended that motor precede communication, social, and cognitive):
    • Within each developmental domain, select a strand (goal area).
    • Within the strand/goal area, consider the child's developmental age level, and begin assessment and instruction at approximately six months below it. Note: If the child is successful at six months below the developmental age level, move to six months ahead of his developmental age level and work backwards until he attains a success level. Or if the child is unsuccessful at six months below level, move six more months back and then move forward until he attains a success level (the success level should be based on a predetermined criteria).
  3. Remember that you can informally observe many skills as the child interacts naturally during activities, with peers, and during group play.
  4. Select a starting skill to begin the assessment. Remember that not all skills are applicable to every child. Review the assessment procedure and activities, collect the recommended materials, secure an assessment form, and prepare the setting for the assessment procedure. It is important that you define a criterion level for the skill according to the policy established within your program. Suggested credit codes: use + if the skill or behavior is present, - if the skill is not present, +/- if the skill appears to be emerging, A if the skill or behavior is atypical or dysfunctional, and, N/A if the item is not applicable or not appropriate to assess due to disability or parent preference. Or create/adapt your own criteria; be sure to use criteria consistently across all skills for all children.
  5. Adapt the procedure to meet the child's unique needs as necessary.
  6. Record the child's responses as indicated in the procedure.
  7. Note the skills that are not yet mastered, and use the matching Instructional Activities with any necessary adaptations.
  8. Use HELP 3-6 Activities at Home to find appropriate activities to share with the parent(s), and encourage the parent to use the handout as a reinforcement of the instructional activities.
Other Assessment Considerations
  • If you use a sequence of skills in a particular domain or developmental strand, and the child makes three incorrect responses in a row based on the predetermined criteria, stop the assessment and begin the instruction with the first skill before the child's incorrect response.
  • After giving the child at least six assessments at six months or more below his developmental level in which he has been unsuccessful, determine whether he must be referred for diagnostic testing. You may also make the decision before the six missed assessments by observing him in the setting.
  • Reassess as necessary to decide whether the child has learned the skill and is maintaining it.
  • Continue to use the recording form as an observational vehicle.
  • Date each assessment session.
  • It is not necessary to complete all skills targeted for an assessment in a particular developmental domain before you move on to another domain.
  • Although the learning activities and assessments are appropriate for all preschool children, expect them to take a little longer and require modification for children with special needs.
Identifying Child Target skills and activities for instruction
  • Planning - Determine the skill(s) the child has not mastered, and select one or more as an objective. Use the Skill ID Number(s) to locate the appropriate activity information in this Guide. Review the activities for the target objective to determine any modifications you should make based on the child's unique needs, the availability of materials, teacher skills, physical surroundings, parental involvement, and schedules. Note: Some activities include suggested changes based on reducing the task levels, adjusting to the entry behavior of the children, timing, and physical adjustments. Collect or assemble the materials for the activity. Prepare the setting for the instructional procedure.
  • Preparation - Most of the activities involve directing the child or a group of children through a series of steps that with sufficient repetition and reinforcement will lead to the attainment of the skill. It is important to encourage the child or group during the entire activity, and as much as possible, to allow each child to explore and experiment on his own.
  • Instruction - Conduct the suggested activities. You may adjust these to meet the needs of the child, but do not alter the intent of the learning experience. Note: Record any adjustments or modifications, as these notes may be helpful when the specific activity is repeated or is conducted by someone else.
  • Evaluation - At the conclusion of the activity, evaluate the procedure as to its effectiveness, ease of administration, and whether it met the interest level of the child, was motivational for him or the group, provided a vehicle for reviewing the child independently, or had skill-transferable features. Many activities have been designed for use as an evaluation continuum to determine whether the skill has been mastered.
Additional Tips: Where do I begin?
One of the most frequently asked questions related to the HELP is "Where do I begin? There are so many skills on the assessment forms!"
  • HELP is an ongoing curriculum-based assessment (0-3 and 3-6) which is not intended to be completed in one assessment session. There are a large number of items but these are skills and behaviors which may be included in curriculum planning during an ongoing intervention program that may last for up to three years. As pertinent skills and behaviors are accomplished, the HELP 3-6 Charts, Checklist or Strands are filled in.
  • All the skills and behaviors listed may not apply to all children. Many will not be pertinent due to the child's age and developmental level (e.g., skills in the birth to 40-month range and skills in the 44-46 month range would not be applicable to a child who is developmentally functioning in most areas at about the 32-35 month range); some skills may not be functional due to a child's disability; other skills may not be necessary to assess because they are not judged to be important for a particular child, e.g., ability to walk on a balance beam if the child displays no difficulty in motor planning or balance skills.
  • It is important, however, to have a general idea of where to begin an initial assessment, as this will have planning implications regarding the types of materials, settings, and times for observations. Parents can provide an enormous amount of information about their child to give you a general idea of level of functioning in most areas of development.
  • Make assessments culturally relevant:
  • It is important to assess and adapt items to reflect the child's relevant cultural and environmental experiences. Some skills listed in the HELP may not be culturally relevant or appropriate to assess.
  • Be sure to identify medical limitations and precautions:
  • It is important to review the child's medical history and current medical status carefully, including vision and hearing if available, before intervention and assessment. Many conditions may require a medical clearance from the child's physician for assessment and intervention.
  • Involve families in every step of the process:
  • Families should be invited to participate and make decisions during all phases of the assessment process. Curriculum assessment content, process and expectations should be adapted to respect and fit individual family priorities, beliefs and values. Parents are experts in their child's development and can provide valuable and valid assessment information related to their child's skills and behaviors. It is important to explain what you are assessing and why.
  • Adapt for disabilities:
  • Assessment adaptations should be made to help ensure that a disability or delay in one area of development does not interfere with a true assessment of the child's capacities in other areas of development.