Preschool Program

We believe that positive experiences in early childhood create a foundation upon which children can build as they grow toward the fulfillment of their potential. Every child deserves early experiences that are filled with love, joy, dignity, exploration, play, and discovery within a nurturing environment that is developmentally appropriate. 

Children should feel valued, secure and competent as contributing members of their unique environment. Their feelings should be validated, as they learn socially appropriate ways of expressing and channeling emotion.

We believe in fostering trust, autonomy, competence, and initiative in order to empower children to move toward independence.

Program Goals

  1. To provide an early childhood program that is developmentally appropriate in nature, including adaptive, aesthetic, cognitive, communication, sensory-motor and social-emotional domains.
  2. To select and use materials/equipment that are developmentally appropriate, designed to meet the needs of preschoolers with disabilities, and that ensure the child’s success in this first school experience.
  3. To provide a curriculum that is age, interest, and exceptionality appropriate, and designed to promote active, organized learning. Curriculum activities will also promote the development of independence and positive character traits.
  4. To provide inclusionary experiences for the preschool children with disabilities by enrolling typically developing youngsters as peer role models.
  5. To include parents/guardians as valued partners in the child’s preschool experience.

Locations of Little Learners Classrooms

Little Learners classrooms operate in the following Newark City Schools:

Cherry Valley Elementary

Hillview Elementary

John Clem Elementary

Legend Elementary

There is also a Little Learners class housed in the Eastland Head Start Center. Furthermore, some students may qualify for our itinerant service option, where services are provided in the home or community preschool setting.

Eligibility

The Little Learners program provides mandated preschool services to children three to five years of age with disabilities and offers a developmentally appropriate preschool experience for a selected number of typical peers.

Children with suspected disabilities may be referred for screenings/assessments done by the preschool staff. During the assessment, children with disabilities must demonstrate a deficit in one or more developmental areas: communication, hearing, vision, cognition or self-help. Once determined to have a disability, the multi-factored evaluation team (including the parent/guardian) develops an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the child. Enrollment into the Little Learners class follows.

Typical peers are selected for each class by the teaching teams. Generally, the typical candidates are screened in areas of communication, motor, cognition, and social-emotional skills and are selected to support the needs of the specific class, balancing skill levels, gender and age. ALL TYPICAL CHILDREN MUST BE TOILET-TRAINED and parents must transport them to/from school. A fee of $10 per week is charged.

Each Little Learners class has up to eight students with special needs and up to eight typical peers enrolled per session.

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