The ELP also offers student-centered, site-based preschool programs in the Phoenix metropolitan area at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, Simonton Elementary School in the J.O. Combs School District in San Tan Valley, and FBC. In Tucson, children who are deaf or hard of hearing attend preschool on the ASDB campus. ELP staff work in cooperation with IEP teams in providing students access to the Arizona Early Learning Standards. As part of the preschool team, teachers use current diagnostic practices to design individualized education plans; design and implement evidence-based, quality instruction to children individually and in small groups; create language-rich environments to support IEP goals; and conduct ongoing progress monitoring to inform instruction.
Our goal as early childhood educators is to instill in young children a love of learning that will make them successful throughout their lives. There are five important components that make this happen.
- Are included in educational decisions and in the educational program;
- Always feel welcome in the program and with the staff;
- Are valuable members of their child’s educational team;
- Know the educational program and philosophy; and
- Are advocates for their children.
A Developmentally-Appropriate Program
- Is based on each child’s prior knowledge and experiences;
- Is the foundation for learning;
- Recognizes that each child is an individual and brings to the classroom a unique background of experiences;
- Recognizes that each child learns differently based on their own personality and background.
- Supports and encourages each child’s unique way of learning;
- Knows and supports developmental sequences; and
- Allows children to move about within the classroom to address their individual learning styles.
- Is the foundation for each child’s education;
- Promotes a love of reading and writing at a very early age;
- Practices that reading should always be a positive experience;
- Teaches reading and writing in a natural setting;
- Activities are integrated in the classroom and the curriculum; and
- In this environment is established with the teacher as the facilitator, providing the information and support the children need to be successful.
- Provide information, resources, and support to each family;
- Provide information about the needs of a child with sensory impairment and what the implications of the sensory impairment are on that child;
- Are flexible and know that a decision made at one point in a child’s life can change as the child and the family grow and change;
- Fit the program to the child, instead of trying to make the child fit the program;
- Continually evaluate the program to ensure that children are progressing and that educational goals are met;
- Keep abreast of current research and best practice in both regular education and education for children with sensory impairments;
- Are lifelong learners and share that passion and new knowledge with our children; and
- Are both skilled observers of children, and facilitators of their overall development.
- Includes partnerships with school districts to support the educational program and options for children;
- Provides opportunities for collaboration with outside agencies;
- Provides the resources for teaching and learning concepts in their natural environment; and
- Provides resources for not only learning opportunities but for leisure activities as well.
When these components are in place, each child is working at their own level with encouragement to grow and stretch to new levels. The mood in the classroom is positive and the interactions and discoveries are exciting! As a result, the children look forward to coming to school and to learning. Optimal learning can begin at a very young age. Early childhood educators build the foundation for children who will naturally want to go on to unlock the keys to reading and writing, be successful in school, and become lifelong learners.