The Purpose of Preschool Education
Preschool Special Education Programs are provided to meet the needs of children with disabilities, ages 3 through 5, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act, Public Law 105-17. Public Law 105-17 was reauthorized December 2004. The reauthorization resulted in a new law, Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act, Public Law 108-446., which took effect July 1, 2005.
The preschool special education program is based on the belief that children are unique, special individuals who learn through play and who grow in a developmental sequence.
It is the belief of both Chesapeake UEV School district and the Lawrence County Early Childhood Center (ECC) that children are encouraged to learn and grow by providing a foundation of developmentally appropriate experiences where all children can succeed in a safe and nurturing environment. Each child is a unique individual and all children can learn. The ECC preschool program provides inclusive settings that recognize children’s varied abilities, interests, needs, and learning styles.
Children learn best through meaningful play. The preschools’ prepared environment of active play is designed to stimulate and challenge various developmental levels. Children with identified disabilities develop alongside typical peers. A strong early childhood program is blended with specialized approaches and related services as appropriate.
Our play-based child-centered program reflects the integration of physical, cognitive, social and emotional, language, self-help and aesthetic areas for the total development of the child. Meaningful play encourages curiosity, discovery, and problem-solving which provide the opportunity for individual growth and the development of positive self-image.
We recognize that parents are the child’s first teachers. Children learn best when parents are involved in their educational program. The primary bridge between home and school is the involvement of family and community. We strongly believe that family involvement is critical for a child’s growth. Parents are encouraged to become actively involved in our programs
An integrated multi-age setting during the preschool years creates a foundation of compassion and acceptance of diversity. Youngsters with and without disabilities are encouraged to:
· Gain a greater appreciation for human differences
· Grow in self-esteem and self-control
· Develop problem solving skills
· Create friendships
Services of Preschool Special Education
Ohio law stated that each district shall make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) available to each eligible child residing in the school district by the child’s third birthday. School districts are responsible for providing services to a child transitioning from early intervention to preschool services who are eligible for preschool special education on the child’s third birthday.
Programs and services are to be provided in accordance with Chapter 3301-51 of the Ohio Administrative Code, Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools Serving Children with Disabilities and the licensing requirements in Chapter 3301-37, Rules for Preschool Programs.
As of June 2003, services may be provided to eligible children through the Autism Scholarship Program with the establishment of the pilot project Special Education Scholarship Program.
Under federal law, districts are required to provide a free and appropriate public education. In Ohio, a free and appropriate public education is evident by providing centerbased and itinerant delivery options. Itinerant teacher services may be delivered in the home, a preschool or childcare setting. When service options change for a child, it is considered a change in placement.
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may include both centerbased and itinerant services for a child, depending upon the agreed upon least restrictive environment (LRE) and delivery of FAPE. Preschool children with disabilities may be enrolled in kindergarten, public or community preschool or child care, and receive preschool special education teacher services. The child also may be enrolled in a preschool special education centerbased program for part of the day when the child is not receiving itinerant preschool special education teacher services. Examples of service delivery models are available in the document, Collaborative Models of Service Delivery.
Related services include developmental, corrective and other supportive services necessary to assist a child in benefiting from special education. These services may include:
· Early identification and assessment of disabilities in children
· Guide services
· Interpreter services
· Medical services
· Occupational therapy
· Occupational therapy assistant services
· Orientation and mobility services
· Physical therapy
· Physical therapy assistant services
· Reader services
· School health services
· School psychological services
· Speech/language pathology services, and
All services are determined through the IEP process with annual goals, objectives and evaluation criteria determined by a team comprised of professionals and parents.
Programs and services are offered to children who have been identified through a multifactored evaluation as having a documented deficit in one or more of the following areas: communication, vision hearing, motor skills, social/emotional /behavioral functioning, self-help skills and/or cognitive skills.
Preschool special education is designed to serve children ages 3 through age 5 and not of compulsory school age. The age of the child is determined by the entry date determined by the district.
Access to General Curriculum
Under the reauthorization of IDEA, children must have access to and demonstrate progress in the general curriculum. The general curriculum would be a developmentally appropriate preschool curriculum that aligns with the Early Learning Content Standards. The IEP would provide for the accommodations and/or modifications to the curriculum and instruction to meet the individual needs of the child.
All preschool special education programs must be licensed under Chapter 3301-37, Rules for Preschool Programs (licensing). A written curriculum is required to be adopted. The curriculum is to describe developmentally appropriate activities, learning environment and approaches which meet the individual needs of the child and is aligned to the early learning content standards adopted by the State Board of Education.
Curriculum is defined as an organized framework the (1) provides for guiding developmentally appropriate activities in the learning environment that encompass the developmental domains to foster a child’s success through active learning; and (2) delineates the content that children are to learn; and (3) describes what teachers do to help children achieve these goals.
Developmentally appropriate is defined as curriculum, instruction, environments, and age-appropriate activities that reflect the cognitive, social, and emotional level of the learner and also includes the unique abilities or characteristics of a learner or group of learners, including those with disabilities, unique ethnic and/or cultural characteristics and unique life experiences.
Therefore, a preschool special education class or program should have a curriculum and any accommodations or modifications as outlined on the child’s IEP are reflected in differentiation of instruction with regard to the basic curriculum. The basic curriculum is aligned with the Early Learning Content Standards.
Preschool classes meet Monday through Thursday following the Chesapeake UEV Schools calendar. Assessment, meetings, home visits, training and a variety of other activities are scheduled on Fridays. Classroom center-based activities provide a balance of play choices in the following areas:
· Fine motor
· Gross Motor
· Language and Literacy
· Dramatic Play
· Sensory Experiences
· Computer Exploration
Our preschool program is administered through Head Start and the Lawrence County Board of DD. Questions concerning this program should be addressed to Mrs. Julie Mayo, Director of Special Education/Chesapeake (740-867-3972, ext.2247), or Mrs. Sue Vanderhoof, Director of Preschool Services, Lawrence County Board of MRDD (740) 377-2356.
Source: Ohio Department of Education