Kyrene de las Manitas Elementary School’s preschool class gives a new meaning to the phrase working together.
Just like in any other preschool classroom, children are taught color and shape identification, math skills, how to hold a pencil and use scissors and basic reasoning skills. What makes this class different than most is that the preschool program includes both typically-developing and special needs students playing and working together. The typical children, who are screened to evaluate their language and social skills, serve as role models for their special-needs peers.
The district is already screening for next year’s students and has the program set up in many elementary schools around the area. This early interaction and exposure to curriculum only benefits the special needs children. There have even been reports of some former students being no longer diagnosed as special needs after graduating from the preschool.
The typical students also benefit from the program as they become more aware and accepting of diversity. They can also give students peer positive reinforcement as they make achievements. Parents have noted positive changes in their special needs children after only a few weeks in the program. Special needs students started to gain communication skills they were lacking before. Typical students developed confidence and social skills that help them in group situations, like speaking in front of a group or talking to new students.
With the fun presentation of educational material and individualized attention that the students get, parents also noted how their children have developed a love for going to school. It is also great for the typical children to interact with the special needs children so they can share adult experiences and learn from them.
By working together with students of all abilities, children can see the various types of people in the world and learn and grow from their experiences.
Photo by: WellspringC