Topic Tuesday: Natural Environment Teaching

Last week Kristin gave some insight into what applied behavior analysis means.   One of the various techniques used in the science of applied behavior analysis is natural environment teaching (NET).


What is NET?

     NET is when teaching and learning occurs in the natural environment.  

     Teaching is less structured, child initiated, and mirrors situations that occur in the child’s everyday life

     The skill that is being taught is often related to the environment or activity.  For example, teaching a child to request food items during meal times or teaching a child to imitate gross motor movements in songs during circle time.


Why use NET?

     NET increases spontaneous language.

     You are teaching the child in the environment that you want them to use the skill.

NET promotes generalization


How do I use NET?

     Although NET is child initiated, a plan needs to be in place prior to an NET session.

     Set up the environment to include activities that the child enjoys.

      Plan how to use these activities to teach the skills that are being targeted. What skill do I want to teach? How can I use the activities that the child likes in order to teach these skills?

     Throughout the NET session you are interacting with the child and creating opportunities to teach the targeted skills.

     Teaching is embedded in play and other activities.


What does it look like?

     It looks like playing while creating and capitalizing on multiple opportunities for teaching and learning.

     It might mean singing a song and pausing until the child fills in the next word or sound.

     It is hiding the bubble wand to give the child an opportunity to request a missing item in order to blow bubbles.

     It is working on receptive identification of colors, objects, prepositions while playing with a dollhouse.

     It might be tackling the skill of waiting during a game of catch.


NET can be used during all activities to teach a multitude of skills including requesting, functional play, and categories, imitation, following directions, color identification, matching items, and much, much more!

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