The Role Of A Child Care Centre: Preparing Your Child For School

A child care centre may also be referred to as a preschool centre, kindergarten or early learning centre. Even if the kind of learning that goes on in such centres may seem simplistic (it involves a lot of play-based programs), it does require appropriately qualified teachers.

You are also likely to come across integrated centres, which offer more than just one service to your child. These may include such aspects as early education, preschool, play grounds, health services, family support services and early development.

Basically, such child-centred facilities aim to prepare your child for adult life and, more specifically, entry to primary school.

When Does A Child Start Preschool And Primary School?

The government of South Australia offers clear guidelines on the best time for kids to get into preschool programs. Your child can get into preschool within the same year that he/she turns four years old, if he/she turn four years old before May 1. This will allow him/her to get in the first term. However, your child would have to wait for the following year in order to join preschool, if her/his fourth year birthday falls either on May 1 or after.

After going through preschool, your child would benefit from that much-needed preparation that would help him/her smoothly transition into primary school. This transition to primary school should be done by the time such a child has attained six years of age.

Just as in the case of preschool, the government of South Australia offers clear guidelines on the best time for kids to get into primary school. Your child can get into a primary school within the same year that he/she turns six years old, if he/she turn six years old before May 1. This will allow him/her to get in the first term. However, your child would have to wait for the following year in order to join primary school, if her/his sixth year birthday falls either on May 1 or after.

The Process Of Transitioning To Primary School

There are many aspects that can pose a challenge to kids and parents when children are transitioning from child care, on to preschool and finally to primary school. Parents need to understand the numerous aspects that can cause stress in their children, starting from the intimidating buildings to older kids in the playground. The rules can also be quite challenging to cope with as well as the formal setup.

To help deal with such challenges, several strategies can be used to give young children a better transitioning process:

– Prior visits to the school can be organized for a period of several weeks. This will help kids get used to such new environments.

– Such visits to schools can be made even more comprehensive, by taking the child around the new school, which gives an even better familiarization experience. This would help the child identify various features within the facility, such as toilets and playgrounds.

– Prior visits are made even richer and more meaningful by involving teachers and other children within the school.

The Easiest Way to Prepare Your Child for a Bright Future: Pre-Kindergarten

Every parent wants to give their child the skills to succeed. For most, these tools include enrolling their children in school around the age of five, helping them with their homework, and emphasizing the importance of academics. However, some parents may be surprised to learn that one of the most proven ways to help their child find future academic success is an early-stage tool: prekindergarten.

Setting a Precedent

A vast and growing body of scientific research shows that enrolling in prekindergarten yields both short and long-term benefits for children and their communities. Preschool exposes young ones to numbers, letters, and shapes during a critical cognitive development stage. Preparing them to understand the concept of counting, giving them a sharper grasp of time, and engaging in fantasy play or storytelling. States that have invested in offering public education pre-k programs for all children have reported significant academic improvements across the board, for all income levels and racial groups. These educational improvements include letter identification, word identification, applied problem solving and spelling. All of which are crucial tools for students to master at a young age in order to stay abreast of their future education. Furthermore, studies that followed subjects for longer periods of time found impressive long-term results concerning educational progress, lowered delinquency, and post-high school earning power. More and more kindergarten teachers are expecting their pupils to already have a basic knowledge of the ABCs, 123s, and the primary colors. However, they now also want them to know how to spell and recognize their name, know the alphabet, name letters, count one to ten, and recognize most of the basic colors and shapes. A pupil entering kindergarten without these skills in hand may struggle to catch up or stay on the same pace as the class. Thus risking a larger and larger academic lag as their education continues.

Increase in Skills

In addition to scholastic improvement, children enrolled in school programs prior to kindergarten have greater opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their social and life skills. At ages 3-4, one should be able to use scissors, copy shapes, negotiate solutions to conflicts with peers, and show interest in spending time with other children. According to research, kids who have positive developmental experiences go on to have a higher vocabulary, are more apt to follow directions, and are more socially confident in their teenage years. Scientific studies show that these earlier educated children also have decreased chances of needing special education services later on in life. Not only does this obviously benefit the child and the family, but it also reduces the financial drain on schools and communities, freeing up extra dollars to be reinvested into improving and expanding other school activities and programs. Cities that invest in early public education see their dollars returned with a closing of their achievement gap, an increase in their graduation rate, and the creation of productive citizens.

In conclusion, parents should consider prekindergarten a crucial step for their children. 3 and 4-year-old brains are like sponges, ready to soak up valuable information and build a strong foundation. With prekindergarten, they will quickly learn how to navigate the academic and social world of kindergarten and beyond.

Could the Boder Test of Reading Spelling Patterns Help Determine If My Child Has Dyslexia?

Do you have a child who is in first grade who receives special education services but is already struggling with reading? Have you been told by special education personnel that you are worrying too soon, and that your child does not have dyslexia? Many school districts have a very narrow view of dyslexia which is harming many children all over the USA! This article will discuss definition of Dyslexia as well as a tool called the Boder Test of Reading Spelling Patterns; that may be used as part of an evaluation, to determine if your child has dyslexia.

The International Dyslezia Association defines dyslexia as: A specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent work recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities, and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Many school districts do not define dyslexia this way, and many children go undiagnosed, which harms children. Why is this harmful? Because children are not able to get the special education services they need for their dyslexia, if they are not diagnosed properly.

A tool developed in the 1980’s called the Boder Test of Reading Spelling Patterns was designed to specifically aid in the diagnosis of dyslexia. The test is recommended to be included as part of a comprehensive (psychological) educational evaluation.

The test was developed to differentiate between the four subtypes of reading problems; one unspecific reading disability and to classify the three types of dyslexia. The three types of dyslexia are called: dysphonetic dyslexia, dyseidetic dyslexia and mixed dypsonetic/dyseidetic. Dysphonetic dyslexia means auditory dyslexia and Dyseidetic means visual dyslexia, and mixed dypsonetic/dyseidetic means both. Another article stated that this test is also used to provide guidelines for the remediation of all subtypes of dyslexia. This would be extremely helpful to parents and special education personnel.

As part of a comprehensive psychological evaluation the Boder test is helpful in determining if a child has dyslexia. A standardized achievement test like the Weschler Individual Achievement Test including the reading comprehension subtest, requires that the child engage in higher level comprehension, which could also show difficulties in reading. Also testing in the areas of: Speech/Language (receptive and expressive), visual and auditory perception, sensory integration, visual spatial, visual motor integration, occupational therapy, phonological awareness, phonological memory, rapid naming, work finding ability, nonsense word ability, reading comprehension, spelling and written expression will be needed.

All of this information can be used by the IEP team to help determine if your child has dyslexia, and determine type of remediation given. Research has shown that children with dyslexia need a multisensory reading and spelling program that uses a synthetic code emphasis approach. A few names of these types of programs are: Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, and Lindamood Bell, though you may find more by using a search engine such as Google.

Recommend this test to your school district as well as testing in the areas recommended above. You will well be on your way to helping your child learn to read and enriching the rest of their life. Good Luck!

The Roles of the Child Study Team and the IEP Process

Many teachers and administrators are unclear as to the roles of the Child Study Team and the IEP process. As the state and the country move more and more forward with inclusion, student growth objectives and other data driven initiatives for all students, it is critical that all pertinent personnel understand the special education process.

In order to understand the special education process one first must gain clarity with regard to the roles and responsibilities of the Child Study Team itself. According to N.J. Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter 14 (12/2010) the Child Study Team consists of 3 primary members. The primary members include the social worker, school psychologist and the learning disabilities teacher consultant. (p. 43) Secondary members may include the related service providers, the speech-language therapist, occupational therapist and the physical therapist. Each member has its own role and responsibility. In addition, the social worker, school psychologist and learning disability teacher consultant may also be case managers.

The function of the school social worker is to complete the social history and possibly adaptive functioning assessment, during an evaluation or re-evaluation. This includes a review of student records, parent interview and developmental history. In some districts, the social worker may also counsel students. The social worker on the child study team is usually a case manager and will coordinate services, create and manage the IEP. One important note is that it is not required for the social worker to have any classroom experience. Most often social workers have no classroom or educational experience.

The role of the school psychologist includes case management, cognitive assessment or intellectual functioning, administration of data collection for executive functioning and attention and adaptive functioning assessments. These measures commonly include the Wechsler Intelligence test(WISC), The Woodcock Johnson cognitive assessment, The Behavior Assessment System for Children(adaptive skills), and the Conner’s Scale (attention). The school psychologist is also not required to have any classroom experience and most frequently does not.

The learning disabilities teacher consultant functions as a case manager and conducts the academic achievement testing. This testing identifies strengths, needs, learning styles and where the student academically performs compared to same age or same grade students. Some of these assessments include the Woodcock – Johnson academic battery, The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Gray oral reading, Key Math and the Brigance amongst many others. The Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant also develops instructional strategies, goals and objectives. The important distinction with the role and responsibility of the LDT-C is that they must have at least 5 years of classroom experience. The LDT-C is the only member of the Child Study Team who must have classroom experience -usually the only who does have classroom/academic experience.

The three primary child study team members are also case managers. Each student who is classified for special education and related services has a case manager. According to N.J. Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter 14 (12/2010) the case manager must:

1. Be knowledgeable about the student’s educational needs and their educational program;

2. Be knowledgeable about special education procedures and procedural safeguards;

3. Have an apportioned amount of time for case management responsibilities; and

4. Be responsible for transition planning. (p.44)

Additionally, they coordinate the development of the IEP, monitor and evaluate its effectiveness, facilitate communication between school and home and coordinate the annual review and re-evaluation.

The special education process begins with a referral to the Child Study Team. A referral may come directly from the parents or other personnel. In order for a parent to refer a child for evaluation a letter must be written to the administration with the request. A teacher, administrator of state agency may also refer a student to the child study team. Most often the teacher first brings the student to the Intervention & Referral Services team so strategies may be devised and implemented within the general education setting. According to The Special Education Process Companion, “The staff of the general education program shall maintain written documentation, including data setting forth the type of interventions utilized, the frequency and duration of each intervention, and the effectiveness of each intervention.” (p. 2) Once the Intervention & Referral Services team determines that an evaluation may be needed, a referral would be made. It must be noted that many parents confuse the Intervention & Referral Services meeting with a Child Study Team meeting. It is important to clearly define these meetings to the parents.

Once the referral is received, regardless of who makes the referral, a meeting must be held to determine whether an evaluation is needed. This meeting must be held within 20 calendar days of receipt of the referral (excluding holidays but not summer vacation). The participants of this meeting include the child study team, the speech and language therapist if indicated, the general education teacher and the parents. During this meeting the student’s progress, interventions and needs are discussed. The team then determines whether an evaluation is needed and the scope of the evaluation. Should an evaluation not be warranted the code states that:

Within 15 calendar days of the meeting, the parent is provided with:

Written notice of the determination that the evaluation is not warranted and:

A copy of the short procedural safeguards statement; and

Copies of the special education rules (N.J.A.C. 6A:14)

and the due process hearing rules (N.J.A.C. 1:6A)

In addition, should the parent disagree with the determination not to evaluate they have the right to a due process hearing to dispute the determination. However, common practice is such that it is not prudent to spend the time and money to go to due process, and the student would tend to be evaluated as requested by the parent. If it has been determined that an evaluation is warranted the procedure continues.

One element which it is critical to follow is obtaining signed consent by the parent when needed. Once it has been determined that an evaluation is needed and the elements of the evaluation delineated, signed parental consent must be obtained. This is the first of many times throughout the special education process that consent must be obtained. According to the administrative code 6A:14 -2.3, “Consent shall be obtained prior to implementation of the initial IEP, prior to conducting a reevaluation, prior to the release of student records, each time a board of education seeks to access private insurance, whenever a child study team member is excused from a meeting, whenever an IEP is amended and whenever a waiver for reevaluation is obtained.” (p.13)

The next step in the process is the evaluation. According to the Administrative Code, “students must be administered a multidisciplinary evaluation consisting of at least 2 evaluations from child study team members and be evaluated in any area of suspected disability.” (p.50) In addition it must be, “sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related service needs, whether or not commonly linked to the suspected eligibility category.” (p.24)

At this point the Child Study Team has 90 days to evaluate, determine eligibility and create the program if needed. However, should a parent fail to produce a child numerous times this timeline does not need to be followed. During the evaluation period it is customary that the student is given some type of cognitive evaluation which determines cognitive strengths, weaknesses and overall potential. Usually a full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) is determined. An academic achievement evaluation is conducted as well. This determines the level of learning achieved by the student based on comparison to same age or grade peers and achievement strengths and weaknesses. Most districts also conduct a social history, which is conducted by parent questionnaire or interview. The social history gives valuable information regarding prenatal and birth history, milestones and emotional/social issues or concerns. Once the evaluations are completed they are sent to the parents at least 10 days in advance of the eligibility meeting.

According to the N.J. Administrative Code, “Any eligibility meeting for students classified shall include the following participants:

1. The parent;

2. A teacher who is knowledgeable about the student’s educational performance:

3. The student, where appropriate:

4. At least one child study team member who participated in the evaluation:

5. The case manager:

6. Other appropriate individuals at the discretion of the parent or school district:

7. For an initial eligibility meeting, certified school personnel referring the student for services or the principal.”(p. 17)

This team is known as the IEP team. It is called upon to convene many times throughout the special education process.

In New Jersey a student may be found eligible for special education and related services in different ways depending upon the disability category. The most common category is specific learning disability, “which is comprised of;

1. Oral expression;

2. Listening comprehension;

3. Written expression;

4. Basic reading skills;

5. Reading fluency;

6. Reading comprehension;

7. Mathematics calculation;

8. Mathematics problem solving.” (p.53)

The two methods used to determine eligibility for this category include the discrepancy method and response to intervention. When using the discrepancy method, “a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement that is not correctable without special education and related services” is needed. (p.52) Common practice dictates that a “severe discrepancy” is present if there is a 1.5 or 1 standard deviation between the two areas. This translates to a 15-22 point discrepancy when using standard scores. The second method that may be used is response to intervention. According to the Administrative code 6A:14.-3.4, 6

“When a response to scientifically based intervention methodology is utilized to make the determination of whether the student has a specific learning disability, the district board of education shall:

i. Ensure that such methodology includes scientifically based instruction by highly qualified instructors, and that multiple assessments of students progress are included in the evaluation of the student;

ii. Not be required to include more than one assessment conducted pursuant to the district’s response to scientifically based intervention methodology in the evaluation of the student; and

iii. If the parent consents in writing extend as necessary, the time to complete an evaluation.” (p.53)

“Other disability categories include:

1. Auditorily impaired, which means an inability to hear within normal limits due to physical impairment or dysfunction. An audiological evaluation and a speech and language evaluation are required.

2. Autistic which means a pervasive developmental disability which significantly impacts verbal, nonverbal and social interaction that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. An assessment by a speech and language therapist and a physician trained in Neuro-develomental assessment are required.

3. Cognitively impaired which means a disability that is characterized by significantly below average general cognitive functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior. This category is broken into three areas including mild, moderate and severe.

4. Communication impaired which means a language disorder in the areas of morphology, syntax, semantics, and/or pragmatics which adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The problem shall be demonstrated through functional assessment of language in other than a testing situation and performance below 1.5 standards deviations, or the 10th percentile on at least two standardized language tests, where such tests are appropriate one of which shall be a comprehensive test of both receptive and expressive language.

5. Emotionally disturbed which means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects and student’s educational performance due to:

i. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;

ii. An inability to maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;

iii. In appropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances;

iv. A general pervasive mood or unhappiness or depression; or

v. A tendency to develop physical symptoms of fears associated with personal or school problems.

6. Multiply disabled which means the presence of two or more disabling

conditions, the combination of which causes severe educational needs.

7.Deaf/Blindness which means concomitant hearing and visual impairments.

8 Orthopedically impaired which means a disability characterized by a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A medical assessment documenting the orthopedic condition is required.

9 Other Health Impaired which means a disability characterized by having limited strength, vitality or alertness, included heightened alertness with respect to the educational environment, due to chronic or acute health problems, such as attention deficit disorder, heart condition or tuberculosis. A medical assessment documenting the health problem is required.

10 Preschool child with a disability means a child between the ages of 3 and 5 experiencing developmental delay as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more areas and requires special education and related services.

11 Social maladjustment means a consistent inability to conform to the standards of behavior established by the school.

12 Specific learning disabled as described above.

13 Traumatic brain injury which means an acquired injury to the brain caused by external force or insult to the brain resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment.

14 Visual impairment means impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects the student’s educational performance. An assessment by a specialist qualified to determine visual disability is required. Students with visual impairments shall be reported to the Commission for the Blind and Visually impaired. (p. 54-60)

Once eligibility has been determined and the parent has signed consent an Individualized Education Program may be written. The case manager comes to the meeting with a draft document and the specifics are discussed and created with the IEP team. The parent may sign consent at this point or wait up to 15 days to sign consent or disagree with the IEP. Signed consent is needed to implement the first IEP after eligibility is determined.

Once the IEP is created and consent is obtained the program may begin. The modifications, accommodations, program, goals and objectives must be adhered to by all personnel who interact with the student. The IEP is a legal binding document. However, it may be amended as needed.

Other points within the special education process include the annual review and triennial reevaluation. It is mandated that each IEP is reviewed annual. Progress is determined and changes are made as needed. Additionally, every three years a student is reevaluated to determine continued elgibility. If eligibility is clear or no further information is needed then the reevaluation may be waived.

In summary, the special education process in New Jersey is a very specific process as mandated by legal code. The entire process is spelled out in the New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A, Chapter 14. All districts must be in compliance with this code. Non-public schools have specific requirements to follow as well. Timelines, signed consent, the specific elements found within the IEP and program adherence are critical features of the special education process. Failure to follow these provisions will render a district, “out of compliance,” which comes with sanctions by the department of education.

Works Cited

New Jersey Department of Education. New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter

14. N.P.: New Jersey Department of Education, 2010. Print.

New Jersey Office of Special Education. Special Education Process: From Child-Find, Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility to IEP Development, Annual Review and Reevaluation. N.P.: New Jersey Office of Special Education, 2007. Print.

Does My Child Have a Reading Disability?

Reading is an important first step on a child’s path to success in life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self -esteem and is able to easily make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. For many of us reading is a natural process and we can read with ease and pleasure. Unfortunately, for a child with a reading disability, the reading process can become a frustrating and negative experience and is often very difficult to master.

What is a Reading Disability?

A reading disability is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell despite at least an average intelligence.

Learning to read is a sequential process. Each new skill a child learns builds on the mastery of previously learned skills. First, a child learns to break down words into their most basic sounds, which we call decoding. Later on, the child begins to comprehend the meaning of words and sentences, which we call reading comprehension. Decoding is an essential step in the reading process since it forms the foundation of reading. For a child with a reading disability, decoding does NOT come naturally and is NOT an automatic process. Most reading experts will agree that decoding problems is the basis of most reading disabilities.

Does my child have a reading disability?

Some signs of a Reading Disability:

• Child has difficulties sounding out words
• Slow laborious reading
• Reads without expression
• Ignores punctuation while reading out loud
• Guesses based on first letter of word
• Puts extra sounds into a word
• Drops syllables
• Reverses sounds
• Struggles with spelling
• Substitutes small common words

If your child is struggling in reading and showing the above symptoms, there may be good reason for you to request an immediate assessment. As a parent you want to be certain that you are providing what is needed for your child to succeed in school. To know what is necessary, an assessment is the first thing to do in order to identify the issues to remedy.

What is an assessment?

An assessment is simply a standardized test performed by someone trained and licensed to understand how to give the test and how to interpret the results. Specialists trained to do psychological testing and result interpretation are:

• Clinical psychologist
• School psychologist
• Educational psychologist
• Developmental psychologist
• Neuropsychologist
• Speech and language therapist

How do I get help?

A child with a reading disability will take in and process information differently and needs to be taught by specialists. Students with a reading disability will need to work with a specially trained teacher, tutor, or reading specialist to learn how to read and spell. Students who have been assessed and diagnosed through the school district might qualify for Special Education Services. Children with a reading disability progress best with a sequential, repetitive, systematic and cumulative structured reading program. Fortunately, with the proper assistance and help, most students with a reading disability are able to learn to read and develop strategies to become successful readers.

When is the best time to get help?

Effective early intervention is the key to helping a struggling reader learn to read. This training needs to begin sooner rather than later for the best results. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 95% of children who have trouble learning to read can reach grade level if they receive specialized help early on. Kindergarten to the middle of first grade are the “window of opportunity” to prevent long term reading problems. Without early intervention, the “reading gap” might never close.

There is no reason why a child with a reading disability cannot learn to read and comprehend well. It is important that we never lower the expectations of a child with a reading disability. Children need to feel that even though they are struggling, they are loved and not being judged. So be encouraging and patient and praise often.