A full continuum of special education programs is available to students three to five years of age who have been evaluated by the child study team and found eligible for special education and related services.
When a preschooler is found eligible and classified as "a preschool child with a disability," an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that describes in detail the child's present level of functioning, goals and objectives, and special education program is developed by the IEP team (parents, case manager, general education teacher, and special education teacher) and implemented after parents have provided written consent. Programs are designed to appropriately meet each preschooler's learning needs in the least restrictive environment. When the IEP team determines that a student's needs cannot be met with supplementary aids and services in an early childhood program operated by an agency other than the board of education, program options in district are considered.
Summit operates preschool classes that are located at The Primary Centers at Wilson and Jefferson schools. Self-contained classes are taught by certified special education teachers and are comprised of up to 12 youngsters 3-5 years of age. Two of the self-contained classes are based on the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). The remaining classes are general education classes with a maximum of 16 students. Of the 16, up to 9 of them are 3-5 year old typical preschoolers. No more than 7 youngsters who are classified as "a preschool child with a disability" are included in the general education setting. Children gain admittance to the general education classes via a lottery.
In addition to teachers and instructional assistants, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and behavior analysts provide related services and/or consultation in accordance with the IEPs of classified students.
With the exception of the full-day self-contained class, preschool classes are in session 12.5 hours a week, five days a week (Monday through Friday). A full-day program (26.5 hours) is available Monday through Friday for students who qualify. Decisions relative to program placement are made by the IEP team to ensure that the unique learning needs of each student are met.
A Developmentally Appropriate Program
“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done…men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. The second goal of education is to form minds, which can be critical, can verify, and will not accept everything that they are offered. The great danger today is of slogans, collective opinions, and ready-made trends of thought. We have to be able to resist individually, to criticize, and to distinguish between what is proven and what is not. So we need pupils who are active, who learn early to find out by themselves, partly through their own spontaneous activity and partly through materials we set up for them; who learn early to tell what is verifiable and what is simply the first idea to come to them.”
These are the words of Jean Piaget (The Construction of Reality in the Child, 1954) and this is the philosophy upon which the Summit Preschool Program is based.
The Summit Preschool Program has been planned to stimulate a child's intellect and imagination so that he/she develops his/her own powers of thinking. Our goal is to help children become independent, self-confident, self-directed learners.
The Summit Preschool Program is designed to be both child-centered and exciting, and utilizes a curriculum that is based on the premise that young children learn best through engagement. The Summit Public School district has adopted The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, a scientifically based and research-tested model. Grounded in child development theory and the research of Piaget, Vygotsky, Maslow, Gardner and Smilansky, The Creative Curriculum for Preschool encourages teachers to use a variety of instructional approaches that range from child initiated play to teacher directed instruction to teach content in literacy, math, science, social studies, arts, and technology. Through The Creative Curriculum children are afforded opportunities to move along the developmental continuum of more than 38 objectives
The Summit Preschool Program provides children an environment that is highly stimulating and nurturing. They are offered opportunities to investigate the world around them and to learn through purposeful play.
The children learn new concepts and skills and have many opportunities to practice what they learn each and every day. Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace and in ways that are best for them. Teachers differentiate instruction based upon individual aptitudes and skills demonstrated. Through ongoing assessment, teachers are keenly aware of developmental levels, individual strengths, and needs. This allows them to tailor lessons and design tasks that meet the unique needs and interests of each child, and to adjust instruction accordingly.
It is our belief that is through play that children develop a curiosity and interest in their world. Play enables us to help children become enthusiastic learners who are not afraid to try out their ideas and to think their own thoughts. Moreover, we believe that play is the “work” of young children and provides the foundation for academic learning. Learning involves interacting with oneís environment and requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn about the world we live in. In using real materials, children try out ideas and learn about sizes, shapes, and colors. They begin to notice the relationships between things and, in time, learn to use one object to stand for another. As this type of symbolic thinking evolves, children gradually learn to use abstract symbols such as words to express their thoughts and feelings.
Summit's Preschool Program has been developed according to the guidelines outlined in the New Jersey Department of Education's “Early Childhood Education Program Expectations: Standards of Quality.”
These Standards of Quality define the criteria for the development of a quality early childhood education program. The standards encompass the attitudes, dispositions, knowledge, and skills on all developmental domains (cognitive, language, social, emotional, and physical) as deemed developmentally appropriate for preschool children.
Seven content areas are outlined in New Jersey's Preschool Standards of Quality. The content areas are: Creative Arts; Health, Safety and Physical Education; Language Arts Literacy; Mathematics; Science; Social Studies; and World Languages.
Objectives within the area of Creative Arts may include:
- Developing visual, tactile, and auditory perception
- Developing motor skills
- Developing an appreciation for art and music
- Having experience to listen
- Having the opportunity for self-expression and creativity
Health, Safety and Physical Education objectives may include:
- Recognizing the need for proper nutrition and hygiene
- Learning safety precautions
- Learning to exercise and participate in recreational activities
- Developing coordination, balance, and strength
- Acquiring acceptable social standards and ethical conduct such as good sportsmanship
Language Arts Literacy objectives may include:
- Developing active listening abilities
- Developing an interest in reading
- Developing skills of emergent reading
- Developing skills of emergent writing
- Developing ability to communicate ideas
- Developing print awareness
- Developing knowledge and enjoyment of books
- Developing phonological awareness
Mathematics objectives may include:
- Developing knowledge of spatial sense and geometric shapes
- Developing measurement/quantity concepts
- Exploring numeration
- Relating math experiences to real-life situations
- Communicating math concepts through use of manipulative, spoken language, and emergent writing.
Science objectives may include:
- Exploring the five senses and their uses
- Exploring living things
- Exploring components of the solar system
- Experimenting with matter
- Investigating the Earth's properties
- Participating in the proper care of the environment
- Making simple predictions
Social Studies objectives may include:
- Developing self-awareness and interpersonal relationship skills
- Developing an awareness of family and traditions
- Developing a sense of community and awareness of careers
- Developing an awareness of economics
- Exploring the cultures of their own families and others
- Developing an awareness of environmental issues
World Languages objectives may include:
- Experiencing a language other than English
- Participating in activities that initiate simple greetings and introductions in other languages
- Participating in cultural activities and celebrations to develop an awareness of diverse cultures.
- Demonstration of self-confidence
- Development of self-direction
- Identification/expression of feelings
- Positive interactions with adults/peers
- Demonstration of pro-social behaviors
For additional information regarding the Preschool Programs, please visit The Primary Centers page.
- Curriculum Overview
- What and How We Teach
- Theorists and Theories
- Math Tips for Parents
- Literacy Tips for Parents
- Environmental Design