How can you develop effective goals for young children’s social and emotional development?
Use the SEAM™ assessment tool
The Social-Emotional Assessment/Evaluation Measure (SEAM™) is a functional tool for assessing and monitoring social-emotional and behavioral development in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at risk for social-emotional delays or problems. It can be used in tandem with screening instruments such as the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE).
SEAM yields in-depth information on children’s social-emotional skills and deficits as well as their caregivers’ strengths and areas of need. It was developed to assist in the early identification of social-emotional difficulties and behavior disorders and to prevent problems by building positive partnerships with families and optimizing positive parent–child interactions in the first years of life.
Early childhood teachers, home visitors, and early intervention or early childhood special education personnel can use the SEAM results to develop high-quality and developmentally appropriate social-emotional goals and objectives for children and their families.
Provide a copy of the SEAM to the caregiver or offer to complete it jointly, depending on the caregiver’s language and literacy level.
Alternate Step 1
Use SEAM with Ages, which includes age ranges for each item, instead of SEAM if you would like to provide caregivers with general guidance about the development of social-emotional skills and where their child’s development fits on the continuum.
Have the caregiver complete the SEAM Family Profile, or administer it with them, indicating any “focus areas” for particular attention.
Record the SEAM assessment and Family Profile information on the Summary Form, indicating whether each item is a child or family strength, a concern, or an agreed-on focus area.
Use the SEAM assessment information to develop child and family goals and plan targeted interventions, as well as monitor progress.
At a glance
What does it assess?
SEAM is an assessment tool for measuring children’s social-emotional development and parenting competence
Who are the developers?
SEAM was developed by some of the key developers and trainers for the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE) screener: Jane Squires, Ph.D., Diane Bricker, Ph.D., Misti Waddell, M.S., Kristin Funk, M.A., LCSW , Jantina Clifford, Ph.D., and Robert Hoselton.
What is the age range of children assessed?
What are the components?
- The SEAM™ Tool – includes three intervals with different developmental ranges: Infant (2–18 months), Toddler (18–36 months), and Preschool (36–66 months) and helps identify a child’s strengths, concerns for the family that need monitoring, and agreed-on focus areas
- The SEAM™ Family Profile – also has three developmental intervals and assesses parent and caregiver strengths and helps identify areas in which they need more supports and resources to foster their child’s social-emotional skills
(The SEAM system also includes SEAM with Ages, an alternate version of the tool annotated with a helpful list of age ranges for each item.)
What does it examine?
For each interval, the Tool assesses 10 child benchmarks critical to social-emotional competence:
- Child participates in healthy interactions
- Child expresses a range of emotions
- Child regulates social-emotional responses
- Child begins to show empathy for others
- Child attends to and engages with others
- Child explores hands and feet and surroundings (for infants)/demonstrates independence (for toddlers/preschoolers
- Child displays a positive self-image
- Child regulates activity level
- Child cooperates with daily routines and requests
- Child shows a range of adaptive skills
The Family Profile also measures four benchmarks key to a nurturing home environment for each interval:
- responding to needs
- providing activities and play
- providing predictable routines and an appropriate environment, and
- ensuring home safety
Where is it conducted?
In early childhood programs, homes, or other settings where children are served
Who conducts it?
Early interventionists, early childhood teachers, Head Start & Early Head Start staff, home visitors, parent educators, and mental health professionals
How long does it take to complete?
15–30 minutes (SEAM/SEAM with Ages)
10–15 minutes (Family Profile)
What languages is it available in?
English and Spanish (both are included on the CD-ROM)
Is it research-based?
Yes, SEAM has been researched with 2,200 children from 49 U.S. states and Canada
How can the results be used?
Qualitative data from the Tool and Family Profile can be used to determine areas for greater intervention; answers can be converted to numerical values for progress monitoring