Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 325–333 | Cite as

Fostering the Foundations of Self-Determination in Early Childhood: A Process for Enhancing Child Outcomes Across Home and School

  • Elizabeth J. Erwin
  • Susan P. Maude
  • Susan B. Palmer
  • Jean Ann Summers
  • Mary Jane Brotherson
  • Shana J. Haines
  • Vera Stroup-Rentier
  • Yuzhu Zheng
  • Nancy F. Peck


Early childhood practitioners can play a vital role in the development of early self-determination in partnership with families. Self-determination has been generally considered to be about personal agency or control that can also relate to the quality of one’s life. Young children with disabilities start to develop a range of critical skills such as engagement and self-regulation that will be needed throughout their lives. These are the early foundational skills that lead to later self-determination. This paper describes a simple four-step process and key features of foundations of self-determination in early childhood, a collaborative process focusing on home–school partnerships. The unique alliance between each dyad (i.e., family member and early childhood practitioner) support child outcomes across naturally occurring routines at home and school. Each family and practitioner dyad uses attainable short-term goals embedded in home and school routines, intentional adult cues, and environmental modifications to promote foundational skills of self-determination in young children with disabilities.


Early childhood Families Home–school relationships Self-regulation Special needs Disabilities Self-determination Young children 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A090267 to the University of Kansas. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S. Department of Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Erwin
    • 1
  • Susan P. Maude
    • 2
  • Susan B. Palmer
    • 3
  • Jean Ann Summers
    • 4
  • Mary Jane Brotherson
    • 5
  • Shana J. Haines
    • 6
  • Vera Stroup-Rentier
    • 7
  • Yuzhu Zheng
    • 8
  • Nancy F. Peck
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Early Childhood, Elementary Education, and Literacy Education, College for Education and Human ServicesMontclair State UniversityMontclairUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  3. 3.University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  4. 4.Beach Center on DisabilityUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  5. 5.Human Development and Family StudiesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  6. 6.University of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  7. 7.Bureau of Child ResearchUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  8. 8.Iowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  9. 9.Education DepartmentKeene State CollegeKeeneUSA

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