Districts, Schools and Educators

Person-Centered Practices Tools, Strategies and Tips #4

February 2021


Person-centered practices are strategies and activities that support students and families to make informed choices or have input into major transitions and everyday life decisions. Person-centered practices focus on the interests and needs of the person receiving instruction or support. They emphasize each person’s strengths and dreams rather than weaknesses or deficits.

Person-Centered Practices provide a common language to be used by students, families and teams. They ensure that all students and their families have teams that use the most current information about their strengths, interests and needs to make informed choices about where they will learn, work, live and play in the most integrated settings possible, where they can be active members of their home, school and local community. Students and their families are the focus as they take the lead in the discussion and decision-making regarding where they will live, learn, work and play. During the 2020-21 school year, we’re seeing many changes in the way we do our work, and using person-centered practices remains as important as ever. As we move into the 2021-22 school year, we have created these tools, strategies and tips monthly documents for your immediate use. You can find the other monthly documents on the Minnesota Department of Education Person-Centered Practices webpage.

Suggested Implementation

Charting the LifeCourse Life Stages

Charting the LifeCourse™ is a framework to help individuals and families explore and plan for the life they want.

One tool in the Charting the LifeCourse framework are guidebooks that outline skills and knowledge for each stage of development. These guidebooks include some great questions for use by teams, students, parents/guardians and other key people involved with the person, and are designed to help you think about the common experiences and concerns within each stage and each domain.

Life stages are the ages and stages we go through as we learn and grow from infancy to adulthood. Our life experiences in each stage build upon one another and prepare us for future life stages.

Life domains are the different aspects and experiences of life that we consider as we age and grow. We lead whole lives made up of specific, connected and integrated life domains that are important to a good quality of life. The life domains help us think about the current realities in our lives as well as the life experiences we'd like to have, which together lead us to the good life that we want. Life domains are the distinct areas of our lives that fit together to make a good life, such as daily routines, security, employment, community participation etc.

A few examples of ways people have used the guidebooks include:

  • Curriculum ideas.
  • Helping families identify where they are and what might come next.
  • Identifying Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives.
  • Finding other formal and informal supports that might be needed.

View more information on Charting the LifeCourse Stages on the Disability Hub MN website.

Charting the LifeCourse Life Domains

The Exploring the Life Domains website provides a description of each life domain and a variety of tools, including:

  • A developmental-delay-specific tool for exploring life possibilities, which can be used to help individuals and families look at a variety of life options. Some of these options are traditional or historic and no longer preferred by many, some are known and tried, but not necessarily the norm, and others are new or unfamiliar to individuals, families and professionals. This can help open avenues of choice and planning for options to support community integration.
  • Life domain kits including examples and tools for exploring the life domains, such as “Abuse Awareness and Prevention,” “COVID-19,” “Employment,” “Healthy Living,” “Respite,” and “Supported decision-making.”

Parents/guardians and students can also self-assess the domains and stages they are in and can help prioritize areas of focus for teaching, support, etc., using the Sample Student IEP Input Form and Sample Parent/Guardian Tools for Developing a Vision—Family form from the Minnesota Department of Education website.

Find additional templates and materials on the Disability Hub MN website.