Part of transitioning from the Early Intervention Program is connecting with the school district and the school that will service your child’s needs. The state assists for the evaluations and getting you connected, but then you are on your own to make sure that your child gets what they need through the school district.
School Districts and the state are opting to put special needs or developmentally delayed children in school earlier rather than later in order to attempt to get them caught up to their age level. Research in the education field has prompted this change. When students are “left behind” their peers or forced to repeat a grade, it can be damaging more to the child’s psyche and undo any foreseen good it might have had academically.
A Special Needs Pre-School will usually have three therapists that rotate during the week along with a regular classroom teacher. The classroom teacher is trained in special education and does the bulk of the lesson plans for the class. These classes tend to have items that are traditionally used as just toys but in this classroom setting are a part of the curriculum.
Play is traditionally used in therapy because children learn by playing. Children imitate what they see and if a therapist or a teacher can model something that promotes learning, the child will gain another skill.
In this setting, children are exposed to dealing with other children and learning to play not only side by side but attempting to play together. The children in this type of pre-school usually have issues with social interation. By placing them with other children who have these same issues, they begin to figure out friendships and how to work with other kids their age.
By exposing children who are at-risk to this type of preschool, there is a real possibility that some of the children may be able to integrate back into traditional classrooms by kindergarten or even first grade. Children who are able to gain the skills they need in this kind of setting is invaluable to the families. Children, who until recently would have not made progress and ultimately dropped out of school, are now being caught at a younger age and assisted much earlier. Catching any issues at a much younger age will ultimately help the children and society at large. It’s a win-win for all involved.