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Family Assessment

Tasks For Families With Very Young Children

With children who do not have the ability to complete a questionnaire because of their age or other factors, other family tasks may be completed. During these tasks, these children's words and actions—including those of an infant—on family behavior may be illuminating. A wide variety of family tasks, especially in a playroom with many age-appropriate toys, can be found in Gary E. Stollak, Anat Barlev, and Ioanna D. Kalogiros (2000) and Kerig and Lindahl (2001). Free play for a period of time allows all family members (which may include a toddler and school-aged and adolescent children) to group themselves as they wish, interact with and/or avoid whomever they choose, and address any topic they want, all without the direction of the assessor. After a period of time, the parents receive instructions to cease free play and to begin other tasks. For example, they are given pencils and crayons and asked to create a family drawing with instructions such as: "Please draw a picture of your family doing something. Try to draw whole people, not cartoon or stick people. Remember, make a picture of your family doing something— some kind of action."

Karen S. Wampler and her colleagues (1989) described several construction tasks including asking the family to build two houses out of various materials (for example, Lincoln Logs and Legos); the first to match a model house and the second, any other structure they wanted to build.

Other activities could include family reading of a story book, playing simple musical instruments or dancing together to recorded music, and playing board games (such as Chutes and Ladders or Candyland) in which parents and child roll dice or turn over cards, move pieces according to directions on each card or space, and attempt to reach a goal. Families with very young children are asked to play "peek-a-boo" and blow up and pop soap bubbles. As noted above, mealtime provides an excellent opportunity to observe the family, and if home observation is not practical, observation of mealtime dynamics and family structure are made in the playroom. After completion of the family drawing or other tasks, the family is offered food, and asked to spend some time eating together before proceeding with the assessment. Or, refreshments are simply left on a table in the playroom before the family enters and no further instructions given. Finally, a clean-up task provides a good conclusion to a play session.


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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesFamily Assessment - Why A Family Assessment?, What, Where, And How Of Family Assessment, Selection Of Assessment Methods