“Inclusive practice improves program quality for all”
The Little School is committed to serving children with diverse developmental profiles including children with identified special needs. In our experience, including a range of children with unique strengths, challenges and interests, strengthens the social competence and understanding of every child in the school. This wide range of learners also encourages our teachers to develop teaching strategies and learning tools, which benefits every child. Each child gains better understanding of his own learning style as well.
Support at The Little School is provided based on the individual needs of each child. Each child’s needs are determined as part of a thoughtful, effective, organic process. Some children need a more formalized or frequent process for their goals to be met. We refer to this as additional support. A child might receive additional support when she or he is:
- Seeing specialists to support development
- Not making progress on goals through usual approaches
- Has identified special needs
- Experiencing challenging family or life changes
- Goes through a sudden change in behavior without clear cause
- Teachers do not feel like they understand the child well enough to provide optimal support
- Her behavior disrupts teacher’s ability to meet the needs of the group
The key components of an additional support plan are:
the teaching team
Teachers at The Little School support all the children in their care through an informal process we call Engage-Reflect-Plan. Teachers engage with children through active partnership. Here they not only build a trusting relationship, but they also observe and gather insight into each child’s unique strengths, preferences and challenges. When the school organizes additional support, that process becomes more detailed and formalized:
- Teachers look more closely at cognitive, language, motor, social, emotional development, school readiness, sensory profile
- Through identification of strengths, interests, challenges, The Engage-Reflect-Plan Process results in a formalized plan of goals and strategies to support progress.
- Strategies are embedded in planned and spontaneous moments throughout day.
- Other teachers, like the support teacher or floating teaching, may participate in supporting a child’s goals.
Families and teachers maintain rich partnerships and dialogue about each child in the program. When children receive additional support, the family-teacher partnership produces more focused insight and planning:
- Everyone regularly shares detailed information. Families are involved in the development of the formalized plan.
- Families and teachers use strategies together in school and at home.
- Families regularly attend “team meetings” with teachers, program director, and specialists. Everyone communicates regularly to track progress together, and update goals and strategies together.
- Families attend transition meetings when their children graduate to a new classroom with new teachers.
- When children graduate from Little School, the teachers pass on a transition document to families. Families have the option of organizing a transition meeting with Little School teachers and new teachers.
inclusive parent community
We all work together at The Little School to support each child’s inclusion in the community. We help to grow families who understand that each child is different, who are invested in the success of every child and who have tools to support a diverse group of children.
The Little School offers specific support systems to families whose children receive additional support:
- Parent Support Group is available for those with developmental concerns about their children. This group meets regularly and keeps all information shared within group confidential.
- Teachers and parents of a child receiving additional support think together about how to help other parents gain the skills and understanding to help in that child’s success.
Our administrative team is familiar with every child in the school and is part of the life of each classroom. While teachers are a primary resource to parents, the administrative team provides additional perspective and knowledge to parents.
- Our child development specialist, Cassie Britton, focuses on additional support services
- She regularly observes in each classroom and meets with each teaching team at least once a month to discuss children.
- Cassie also attends team meetings, transition meetings and the conferences of children receiving additional support whenever possible.
- Leslie Roffman provide support to teachers, children and families as necessary addressing topics such as the kindergarten process, assessments and the need for additional teaching support.