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Parenting Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations Linked to Outcomes (PICCOLO™)

What is PICCOLO?

PICCOLO focuses on the interactions between an adult and a child. Adult-child relationships during the early childhood years predict future success in school and in life. PICCOLO gathers information about positive adult-child interactions that support children’s development through talking and play. The use of PICCOLO helps adults see the value of supportive interactions, identifies strengths, and guides program planning. Although titled “Parenting Interactions,” research supports the use of PICCOLO in measuring staff-child interactions in all child care settings. The assessment process focuses on practices within these four domains:

  • Affection
  • Responsiveness
  • Encouragement
  • Teaching

Which program(s) could use PICCOLO?

All child care settings that want to increase supportive staff-child interactions. PICCOLO focuses on interactions between teachers and children 10-47 months old.

PICCOLO Assessment Process

External PICCOLO assessments are conducted by a reliable assessor from the Program Quality Assessment (PQA) team.

Internal PICCOLO assessments are conducted by the program’s internal assessment team. Programs partner with the Quality Coach and PQA team when planning for and conducting internal assessment, and when analyzing the information collected during the internal assessment process.

The PICCOLO assessment process measures staff-child interactions within the four domains through short observations during a variety of activities.

How does PICCOLO support Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)?

Information gathered during a PICCOLO assessment can be used by the program to help identify positive staff-child interactions that support children’s development through talking and play, as well as areas for growth. The information gathered can also be used to help create the program’s continuous quality improvement plan.

Additional Information/Training

More general information on PICCOLO including downloadable resources may be found at:

Are you interested in using the PICCOLO for internal assessment?

How to Conduct an Internal Assessment Using the PICCOLO (PDF) is a good place to start. It provides an at-a-glance of the assessment details, a list of materials to support internal assessments, links to professional learning resources, and step-by-step guidance for conducting the internal assessment.


Return to the Program Observation Instrument (POI) page.


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