ECI Administration Guidelines

Administering an IGDI assessment involves conducting a 6-minute play session with the child and a familiar adult who is the play partner. Play focuses on the toys that are standardized for each IGDI measure. The session should take place in a relatively sheltered, but convenient, setting with few distractions.  Use the ECI Administration Checklist to ensure sessions are administered with fidelity.

Two options for IGDI administration:

    • Live Scoring.  One adult, familiar to the child, serves as the play partner while a second adult is present and codes the appropriate IGDI key skills during the 6 minute play session. The adult who is playing with the child during the assessment CANNOT live score while they are playing with the child.
    • Video Scoring.  One adult, familiar to the child, sets up and videotapes (or someone else videotapes) the session for later scoring of the IGDI key skills during the 6 minute play session.

Using either option, the assessor must time the session to ensure it lasts exactly 6 minutes.

During the play session, the play partner follows the child’s lead and comments on the child’s words and actions in order to encourage the child’s engagement. The play partner should follow the child’s lead during the session.

Download the assessment forms and checklists from the ECI Forms page.

Play Toys/Materials Needed

The House and Farm are the “standard” play toys for the ECI. All normative data used for decision making represent children’s communication with these two toys.

The toys, made by Fisher-Price can be purchased at local toy stores or ordered directly from Fisher-Price. Since development, however, Fisher-Price has made the Barn and House “sound” toys. For purposes of the ECI, remove all batteries and use the toys without sound because sounds tend to interfere with children’s opportunities to communicate.

General Set Up for an ECI Assessment

The familiar adult and child sit in an area that is comfortable where they can play. Infants and children who need extra support can be placed in a chair with a tray, at a table, or seated but supported on the floor. Make sure the child’s feet, head, and neck are supported as needed during the six-minute session

Alternate toys one session to the next to maintain the child’s interest. The Individual Child Report or the child’s dashboard will indicate which toy set was used the previous ECI. The toys should be set up and ready prior to bringing child into the assessment. The toys should be open and the child should be placed within reach of the toy. The play partner should be within reach of the child and the toy and when possible have eye contact with the child.

Video Camera Set Up

If the ECI assessment is going to be video recorded, there are several things to
keep in mind.

  • The camera view and sound quality affect later scoring accuracy.
  • Make sure the camera shows the face of the child and adult, as well as the inside of the toy;
  • If there is someone recording the session, they may have to move a little as
    the child moves during the 6 minutes.
  • The person recording the assessment should ideally have no interaction with
    the play partner or child during the 6 minute assessment. They should not
    ask questions, nor give comments or suggestions to the play partner or child
    during those 6 minutes.
  • The start and stop times of the 6 minutes should be clearly marked for
    scoring later (say ‘start’ and ‘stop’, or the play partner makes a visual cue
    when the timer has started and stopped).
  • If the assessment needs to be paused, say “Pause” and pause the timer, then
    say “Resume” so that the coder knows when to start/stop their scoring.

Becoming a Familiar Play Partner (Warm Up Sessions)

It is always recommended to use a familiar adult as the play partner. If a play partner unfamiliar to child needs to be the play partner, spend some time with the child in their classroom/home settings where you plan to conduct the ECI assessment. Ask to join in the child’s play when a familiar caregiver is present and engaging the child. Once the child is willing to join you in play alone, let the child know that you are going to play with some toys as you start the ECI with them.

Adult Play Partner Checklist

The ECI Administration Checklist provides information on being a play partner.  Some important things to remember:

  • Play partner and child are positioned so they can have eye contact
  • Play partner and child can see and reach toys
  • Play partner follows child’s lead (is not too directive)
  • Play partner comments about what the child is doing
  • Play partner interacts in a non-directive, friendly manner
  • Play partner uses questions sparingly
  • At the end of the session, play partner lets child know that the session is over
  • At the end of the session, play partner thanks the child for playing

Children from Bilingual Families

  • Play partner MUST be able to speak and understand the child’s primary language
  • Follow standard administration protocol
  • Communicate with the child in his/her primary language

Note to coders: Code all words and multiple words, regardless of the language the child uses, including sign language. Therefore, the coder must be be able to speak and understand all languages that the child might use, including sign language. Refer to the ECI Scoring Definitions section for more about coding.


Accommodations for Children with Physical and/or Sensory Impairments

  • Move toys closer to child
  • Position child in manner that allows best access
  • Orient child toward toys
  • Introduce toys to the child allowing him/her to touch and manipulate
  • Tell child where you have placed toys
  • Include toys that are appropriate for the child, that are larger, more identifiable, that make common sounds and record these changes in the child’s file so that these same toys will be used in future assessments.