Are you in a frenzy of toys and papers, and files, and stickers, and everything but the kitchen sink? Everyone who does Early Intervention (AKA Home Visits) knows that the trunk of our cars looks like a combination of Toys 'R Us and a Mini Me Office. Frankly it can be a mess back there. So after months of rummaging through stacks of ‘stuff’ I decided that I needed to organize everything from my student files to my Play Doh.
I have 2 files in my ‘real’ office— a work file and a cumulative file, but they are so big, that I can’t keep them all in my car. I decided to create a personal work folder for each family containing what I consider essential to have with me in my office on wheels. I use a different colored vinyl pocket folder for each child with a cute name label on it. It contains a copy of the IFSP with the outcomes highlighted in yellow so I can look at them at a glance to be sure I am targeting their goals. A one page 24 month calendar helps me to keep track of the days that I see the families. I simply highlight the days that I make visits in yellow (Are you seeing a pattern of highlighting?), periodic and annual IFSP’s in pink (we cannot count those as visits), and no school or vacation days in green. A quick glance at the calendar shows how many times a month students are seen to assure that I am providing the amount of service time specified on the IFSP. I keep the student’s enrollment form in the folder which is a data sheet that contains information regarding the family, address, phone numbers, family member names, housing subdivision, emergency contacts, and email addresses.
My school district provides us with Progress Notes which are on NCR paper (3 copies). This is where I record what was done during the family visits, where data is collected, and parent activities and coaching recommendations, as well as our next scheduled visit. The family signs it, and they get a copy. I keep the other ones in the family folder. I like looking at these as I am planning for each visit. Somedays I see 5-6 families, and while I think I can always remember every detail of everything, having it in writing is a good plan. I have a plastic file in my car. Each one of these files are placed in a hanging folder for quick retrieval. Of course I always keep a bunch of blank progress report forms in there as well.
I know that it is considered best practice to use Routines-Based Intervention. Still, in my experience, there are some basic must-haves to keep on hand. For me these include: play dough, cookie cutters, cookie sheet, wooden puzzles, drawing paper, bingo daubers, small vehicles (cars, trucks, trains), Fisher Price Little People, a ball, bubbles, animals, board books, and lift the flap books. Although this list is certainly not exhaustive, kids always relate to these kinds of playthings.
For little ones who have phonological needs, I print pictures on sticky labels and put them on everything — Super Duper Token Towers chips, Duplos, large plastic coins that come with many Fisher Price toys, Zingo tiles, Pop the Pig burgers, ball pit balls—anything I can think of. This gives opportunities for children to practice multiple repetitions.
Parent handouts and activities should be readily accessible. I use binders with several copies of each ‘tip’ or activity that I can put into the vinyl work folders that I always bring into the homes. I have also designed a series “Communication Tips for Early Intervention” that my families loves. They are short and easy to read. They are hole punched on the top left and can be kept together on metal ring binders. They are available in my TPT store at:
I love see through containers. One of my favorites are Vinyl zippered pouches that are available at Walmart and Target. They are perfect for little pieces, cards, chips, etc.
Drawers are compact and easy to access in your trunk especially if you have an SUV. They allow you to find small items quickly (I put several of the vinyl pouches in the drawers that contain Cariboo cards, token chips, Zingo tiles, etc.
I put all of my toys in individualal Ziplock bags and place them in clear 66 quart Sterlite totes. Don’t forget to keep Clorox wipes in the car too to clean off toys.
I hope you have fun organizing your mini office. It is worth all the work to set it up so that your time can be spent focusing on the kids, and not rummaging through your car for just the right things to bring in for them to interact with.