Early Childhood Center
The Early Childhood Center serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students, ages 0-6, and their families. Our goal for every child is the development of age-appropriate cognitive, communication, language and social skills.
Our center is home to a vibrant community of young children, parents, educators and specialists in communication, language and learning. We strive to integrate the most exemplary and effective methods of teaching young children with the unique, individual needs of each child we serve.
Early Childhood Center Programs
- Parent Infant Program (PIP): Children under age three attend the Parent Infant Program (PIP), where they participate in a combination of in-school playgroups, home visits and individual speech and auditory therapy sessions. Parents have the opportunity to attend a weekly discussion group.
- Preschool: Three and four-year-old children attend a child-centered, full-day preschool program which operates on the belief that knowledge is intuitively sought by children through their own actions and experiences. Home visits are provided on a monthly basis to families in this program.
- Kindergarten: Five and six-year-olds participate in a full-day kindergarten program which continues to foster child-directed learning opportunities while encouraging further development of skills in areas of communication, literacy, math, science and social studies. Kindergartners may also choose to take gym, library, art and ASL classes.
The Early Childhood Center provides an environment rich in linguistically accessible learning. Our goal is for all children and their parents to learn, use and understand American Sign Language, since early exposure to accessible language is key to the development of future skills.
For hard-of-hearing children or Deaf children with cochlear implants, spoken English is appropriately incorporated into the program. Research shows us that early exposure to sign language promotes more rapid development of spoken language for Deaf children, including those who can use digital hearing aids or cochlear implant technology. Spoken English classes and activities are designed to meet individual communication needs.
Support services at the Center include: speech and language therapy by certified speech pathologists; audiology services such as hearing testing, middle ear status monitoring and minor equipment maintenance; occupational therapy; physical therapy; and consultation by psychologists and social workers.
For students who find learning more challenging, we adapt our programming accordingly. Whether a child's limitations are physical, cognitive or social/emotional, each student may access the curriculum to the best of his or her ability with the support of a multidisciplinary team which includes a board-certified behavior analyst. Reduced student to staff ratios are of significant help when implementing individualized programs.
Our Intensive Program (for all ages in all programs) provides an exceptional learning environment for Deaf students with diverse cognitive, language or behavioral disabilities. The philosophy of the program is based on the importance of the growth and development of the "whole" child whose needs require an exceptionally individualized education. The Learning Center's Intensive Program allows each student to learn at his or her own pace, while fostering the development of all students to their fullest potential.
Some children continue to work best with specialized attention in a small self-contained classroom. When appropriate, however, the Intensive Program provides the child with opportunities to join other classroom settings within The Learning Center, giving him or her the chance to experience more and varied social interactions, adopt Deaf role models, and exercise communication skills.
Parental involvement remains a vital component of our early childhood programs, as parents and/or caregivers continue to be active participants in playgroups and home visits. We recognize and respect that the most important learning environment for children during their first three years is the one created at home. Our preschool teachers can make home visits to families, and parental observation and participation in the classroom is scheduled on a regular basis. Parents are also invited to attend a weekly support and informational group.
Communication between staff and family is always an integral piece of the partnership between home and school. Family involvement is especially important, and parents are encouraged to visit their child's classroom frequently.