The Prekindergarten Exceptional Student Education Program offers a variety of program models and options for children from age three through age five who have been identified with one or more of the following disabilities: autism spectrum disorder, deaf/hard of hearing, developmental delay, dual sensory impairment, emotional / behavioral disability, intellectual disability, language impairment, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment. Related services such as transportation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility, speech / language therapy, nursing services, mental health support may be provided if needed.
A continuum of services and programs is available to meet the individual needs of prekindergarten aged children requiring special education, ages 3 through 5. Specially designed instruction and related services are provided per an Individual Education Plan and are based on each child’s unique needs, as related to present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. The type, frequency, duration and location of specially designed instruction and related services are indicated on the IEP.
Continuum of Services for Pre-Kindergarten Students with Disabilities
Speech/Language Therapy – Children who exhibit communication delays and attend a private child care in the community or remain at home, come to their neighborhood school for therapy on a weekly basis.
Itinerant Instructional Services – Children with mild disabilities who attend a private child-care in the community or remain at home, are provided weekly special education services in the child care or home. In addition, if eligible for therapy services, the children come to their neighborhood school for therapy services.
Children with mild-moderate disabilities who attend a Head Start program are provided weekly special education and related services in their Head Start program.
Homebound/Hospitalized Instructional Program – Children who are too medically ill to attend school are provided weekly special education and related services in their home or hospital.
Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) – Children with a medical condition who have doctor’s orders to be treated in a facility where nursing care is always available are provided weekly special education and related services.
Education services are provided through daily classroom experiences that are intentionally planned to develop skills that are important for success in kindergarten. Children learn best through active learning experiences that have a purpose and are meaningful to them. Classrooms are arranged to offer multiple opportunities for children to explore, discover, and grow. The classroom is set up in learning areas. The daily schedule and routines are established to structure the day. The goal is to create a classroom community where children learn how to get along with others, solve problems peacefully and learn the academic skills they need to be successful in kindergarten.
These programs are full day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, following the DCPS school calendar. Each classroom is staffed with a certified teacher and paraprofessional. Classrooms are located in elementary schools throughout the district. School placement is based on the child’s home address or child care center.
Blended Classroom - Children with mild-moderate disabilities are provided special education and related services in a regular VPK program with typically developing peers. Communication Social Skills Classroom – Children who need supports to address delays in communication, social, behavioral, and functional self-care skills. This classroom addresses the children’s need for structure with an emphasis on visual supports, schedules, and routine. Focus is on direct teaching of social interactions, imitation of role models and guided practice.
Day Treatment Classroom (P.R.I.D.E. Academy) – Children with an emotional or behavioral disability that adversely affects performance in the educational environment are provided intensive mental health and behavioral support in a self-contained classroom.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Classroom – Children who’s hearing impairment is so severe that specialized strategies and techniques are needed for them to learn. Focus is on sign language, visual supports, and spoken language for communication and learning.
Children with a hearing impairment who have enough residual hearing to benefit from the Auditory-Oral method of instruction are provided the listening and spoken language approach for developing communication and learning.
Participatory Level Academics Classroom – Children who have moderate to severe/profound cognitive and physical impairments, or severe neurological and/or medical difficulties and are dependent upon an adult for most, if not all, of their daily needs are provided special education and related services, including nursing services, in a self-contained classroom that focuses on the development of functional life skills.
Physically Impaired Classroom – Children with physical and/or health impairments which adversely affect their performance in the educational environment are provided special education and related services, including nursing services, in a self-contained classroom. This classroom provides the necessary accommodations, supports, adaptive equipment and/or assistive technology needed to assist with the development of communication, self-care, ambulation, coordination, and personal safety skills.
Supported Level Academics Classroom – Children with moderate cognitive impairments and significantly below average adaptive functioning which affects all aspects of their life (academic, daily living, recreation/leisure) are provided special education and related services in a self-contained classroom. This classroom emphasizes instruction in communication skills, self-care skills, social skills, health and safety skills and functional academics.
Varying Exceptionalities Classroom – Children with mild to moderate delays in cognitive, communication, motor, social/emotional and independent functioning skills are provided special education and related services in a self-contained classroom. Classroom activities emphasize learning appropriate interactions with peers and adults, developing independence, boosting cognitive, communication and motor skills, enhancing social skills and acquiring pre-literacy and math skills.