By completing a functional assessment, one that identifies circumstances and consequences associate with a certain behavior, teachers can more easily determine the root of the problem.  A functional assessment is based on good observation skills as well as communication.  When teachers step back and observe children closely, they are more likely to see the world through the eyes of the child.  A functional assessment will help teachers understand where the behavior is coming from, why it is happening at a specific time or place and the reason for the behavior.  


How to complete a functional assessment 

Step one:  Behavior: describe the behavior clearly and specifically enough that anyone can recognize the behavior.     

Step twoAntecedent: the event that takes place right before the challenging behavior.  What seems to trigger the behavior? Is it happening at a certain time of day, or during a specific activity?  What were the teacher or children doing or not doing?  Have there been changes at school or home?             

Step threeConsequences: what happens after the behavior? What did the child gain from the behavior?

Step fourAnalyze: review all the information and communicate with the parent and teachers.


The following is an example of a functional assessment

Behavior:   Four-year old Jamie has been fully potty trained for almost one year.  In the last two weeks, Jamie has had accidents everyday right before time to go outside.  When asked to clean himself up and change his clothes, he is very slow.  He cries the entire time he is changing.  If the teacher stays with him the entire time he is cleaning up, he will whine and whimper some, but if left alone for more than a few minutes he cries more excessively.  He is typically finished changing his clothes just minutes before the class is ready to come inside and most days does not have enough time to go outside.  This is the only time of day that Jamie has accidents or cries.

Antecedent: The four-year old class has outside time everyday at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for 15 minutes.

Consequence:  Jamie is having to stay inside and miss outside time.

Analyze:  Previously Jamie loved outside time, he was the first to line up to go outside and the last to line up to come inside.  The teachers determined nothing had changed at school; however, there was a bad storm a few days prior to when Jamie started having accidents.  The teachers spoke to the mother.  The day of the storm, Jamie was playing outside at home when the strong winds and rain began.  When Jamie’s mother called him to come inside, he ran from her.  Before his mother could get to him and bring him in, tree branches began to fall and other items outside became airborne.  Jamie became quickly frightened.  Jamie was scolded by his mother for running from her.  Since that day Jamie no longer wants to play outside.  By working together, the teachers and the mother realized that Jamie’s accidents began almost immediately after the storm and realized that he was afraid to go outside and play. 


For more information, try our online classes:

Helping Children Cope with Stress

Basic Observation and Assessment

Basic Behavior Management

Managing Challenging Behaviors