Oftentimes, the needs of children who require special academic or emotional support don’t present themselves until they are already enrolled in a full-time school program. Many children with special needs don’t exhibit signs of requiring specialized instruction until they are in elementary school. However, there are those children who do present special needs at an earlier age; sometimes before even beginning preschool. Children who are afflicted with genetic disorders, cerebral palsy, turrets, speech delays, cognitive delays, and even in some cases, autism, begin to show signs very early on in life.
For the parents of these children, several questions need to be considered – one of them being whether or not a special education preschool is the right option.
So, is your young child displaying signs of special needs? Is he or she approaching the preschool age? If so, you have likely been debating over whether or not you should send him or her to a special education preschool or a traditional preschool. The only way to decide is to consider the benefits of each type of setting and the needs of your child.
In order to help you reach the best decision for your child, consider the following:
The Benefits of the Preschool
The first step of determining which environment is better suited for your child is to consider the benefits of each setting.
Typical preschool settings offer a well-rounded introduction to academics, socialization and the school setting. Your child will likely be involved in a fairly consistent schedule (consistency is key when working with young children, no matter what their needs are) that includes circle time, center time, opportunities for gross and fine motor development, as well as social interactions. Children will be provided with the basic foundations of academics in a safe and healthy environment.
Special education preschool settings really are quite similar to the typical preschool environment. Children are provided opportunities for academic learning, as well as social interactions in an environment that is safe and secure. As with a typical preschool setting, a regular routine will be followed, which will likely include circle time, center time, opportunities for fine and gross motor development, as well as opportunities for social interactions.
However, in the special education preschool, your child’s specific needs will be taken into consideration and will guide his or her instruction. For example, if your child has difficulties with motor development, an occupational therapist may be brought in to provide one-to-one instruction, or if speech delays are evident, a speech pathologist work with him or her.
Consider Your Child’s Needs
Of course, you also want to consider your child’s specific needs when choosing the type of preschool setting to engage him or her in. Is your child exhibiting severe special needs? Does he or she only suffer from minor delays? Do you want those delays to possibly be corrected before starting kindergarten? Your child’s needs are unique and at this young age, you are responsible for determining which educational opportunity is the best.
The bottom line is this: At the preschool setting, children are just gaining an understanding of the world of academics and are only just being introduced to basic principles and ideas. Certainly, a special education setting could benefit your child, but it won’t necessarily shape his or her academic success for the remainder of his or her academic career.