A naturalistic teaching strategy is any spontaneous, individualized instruction that occurs when a child and an adult verbally interact during a naturally occurring activity in the child's environment (Diamond, Hestenes, & O'Connor, 1994). Typically, notes Wolery (1994d), naturalistic interaction is "responsive to children's verbalizations, thus providing them with opportunities to use more complex language in natural and relevant situations" (p. 132). Within the early childhood classroom, such strategies provide a noninvasive means for a teacher to implement intervention within regular classroom routines (Bricker & Cripe, 1992).
Wolery (1994d) states that naturalistic teaching strategies "are responsive to children's behavior and their communicative attempts. These strategies tend to be natural extensions of adults' usual interactions with children" (p. 140). He describes two examples of naturalistic strategies used in the early childhood classroom:
As an aspect of developmentally appropriate practice, naturalist teaching strategies are an important component of early childhood education. They are appropriate for normally developing children as well as children who have disabilities and developmental delays. Wolery (1994d) notes:
"The procedures have been effective with children who have many different disabilities and who have a full range of language needs--including children with limited communication skills (e.g., they are at a one-word stage)--and those who have substantial language skills but are at risk for communication delays." (p. 131)