From theory to practice: A contextual framework for understanding self-determination in early childhood environments

Elizabeth Erwin, Fredda Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Acquiring the skills and behaviors associated with self-determination is an important priority for young children with and without disabilities because these skills provide a foundation across the child's life span. These skills play an essential part in creating a high quality of life for a child as well as consistent opportunities to interact with the world in an active, meaningful, and highly personalized way. This article discusses the importance of self-determination for young children, and provides a framework for looking at self-determination across routines in a variety of early childhood settings. This framework is based on the idea that self-determination is a dynamic and contextually based concept. A self-monitoring set of questions is presented that can assist practitioners and families in examining contextual and multiple factors that can impact self-determination across early childhood environments. The questions are framed within three areas: (a) the child's current skills relevant to self-determination, (b) the adult's style and behavior, and (c) the immediate learning environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003



  • Choices
  • Disabilities
  • Early childhood
  • Self-determination
  • Young children

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