There are important differences between services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and children with disabilities who turn three years old. Most basically, once a child is three years of age and has an identified disability, the child has a right to a free, appropriate education. If the child has been receiving early intervention services, it is sometimes a smoother transition to school services.
The process for entering preschool begins with the family’s neighborhood school district:
- The child may already have a formalized service plan (Individualized Family Service Plan or IFSP) through an early intervention program.
- Within a year before the child’s transition to preschool, the early intervention provider will schedule a transition meeting with parents and a representative from the local district’s public preschool program.
- The district representative can share information with parents concerning the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – Part B, which sets requirements for services for children with disabilities, ages 3-21.
- This meeting can help parents understand important differences between early intervention services and school-based programs.
- It will also offer school personnel the opportunity to get to know a child’s special needs and prepare in advance for a placement in an appropriate preschool.
Private Preschool Option
In New Jersey, a school district’s child study team and a child’s parents may look outside the local school district for an appropriate educational placement for a child with disabilities. P.G. Chambers School is an option for this educational placement. In the PGCS preschool program each student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that builds on his or her individual strengths and skills. PGCS is particularly equipped and experienced to provide the accommodations or modifications that a child with disabilities may need to access the curriculum and learn.
The P.G. Chambers School preschool program operates as part of the private school and uses the HighScope Curriculum. In HighScope, the teacher designs a classroom program that reflects the expressed needs and interests of the children in the class. To do this, the teacher must identify the child’s developmental age and abilities by examining his or her strengths and accomplishments.
The HighScope Curriculum is a good choice for the PGCS preschool program because it reflects best practice in special education, particularly with very young students. At PGCS the consistent use of adaptive and assistive technology for communication and movement supports the program. The teams of teachers and therapists work to provide developmentally appropriate experiences in the classroom that reflect key goals for preschool education.
These goals are:
- to develop children’s ability to use a variety of skills in the arts and physical movement
- to develop children’s knowledge of objects as a base of educational concept
- to develop children’s ability to speak, dramatize, and graphically represent their experiences and communicate these experiences to other children and adults
- to develop children’s ability to work with others, make decisions about what to do and how to do it, and plan their use of time and energy
- to develop children’s ability to apply their newly acquired reasoning capacity in a wide range of naturally occurring situations and with a variety of materials
HighScope’s plan-do-review sequence involves children in decision-making and problem-solving situations throughout the day. The educational team’s role is to support the children’s decisions and encourage them to extend learning beyond the original plan. The classroom team also relies on a basic room arrangement and daily routine designed to stimulate and support active learning.
For more information about our preschool program, please contact principal, Heather Gilliland at firstname.lastname@example.org