Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs
by Loraine Thompson Information Services Regina

SSTA Research Centre Report #97-09: 33 pages, $11

Acknowledgements

Purpose of These Guidelines

What is an Early Intervention Prekindergarten Program?

Why Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs?

What Responsibility Do Boards of Education Have for Early Intervention Preschool Programs?

Program Guidelines

Getting Started

Management of the Early Intervention Prekindergarten Program

Budget and Funding

Staffing

Facilities

The Learning Program

The Nutrition Program

The Health Program

Parent Involvement

When Children are Abused

Transportation

Special Situations

Assessment and Evaluation

Resources

Children who participate in early intervention programs have better academic performance and fewer behaviour problems when they enter the K-12 system than children who do not. Because of these positive results, there is a growing trend throughout North America to provide early intervention programs for those children who can benefit the most from them. Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs: Guidelines for Boards of Education has been developed for boards of education who may be considering providing early intervention programs for three- and four-year-olds in their division. Topics covered in the guidelines include management, budget and funding, staffing, facilities, the learning program, assessment and evaluation and student transportation.

Back to: Students - Diverse Needs


The SSTA Research Centre grants permission to reproduce up to three copies of each report for personal use. Each copy must acknowledge the author and the SSTA Research Centre as the source. A complete and authorized copy of each report is available from the SSTA Research Centre.
The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.


Acknowledgements

The Saskatchewan School Trustees Association would like to thank the following individuals who contributed to the development of this document.

Peggy Adamack - Saskatchewan Education
Barry Bashutski - Saskatchewan School Trustees Association
Pat Clark - SCEP Centre, Regina
Pat Connolley - Broadview School Division
Yvette Frison - Regina Catholic School Division
Caroline Krentz - University of Regina
Kathryn McNaughton - University of Regina
Jane Newton - Regina Public School Division
Debbie Ward Regina - Catholic School Division


Contents


Purpose of These Guidelines

These guidelines have been developed for boards of education who may be considering providing early intervention programs for threeand four-year-olds in their division. Some boards of education may choose to set up their own programs. In this situation, these guidelines identify and provide suggestions for the many elements that go into a good early intervention prekindergarten program. Other boards of education, particularly those with few children who could benefit from an early intervention program, may purchase a place for the children who need early intervention in an existing community prekindergarten. In this situation, these guidelines provide a framework for assessing existing programs to determine whether they can offer quality early intervention programming.


Contents


What is an Early Intervention Prekindergarten Program?

Which children benefit from early intervention? Why the emphasis on early intervention? How is a program structured?

All children benefit from positive early childhood experiences. However, children who benefit most from early intervention programs are those born into poverty, or overly stressful family or community circumstances. Stressful family and community circumstances include racism, substance abuse, family and community violence, hunger and teen pregnancy. Poverty and stressful childhood circumstances can delay children's normal development, impair their ability to achieve in school, to work and play with others, and to be productive adults. Other children who benefit from early intervention programs include those who have conditions such as speech delays that are the result of a physical problem rather than environmental circumstances.

The first four or five years of a child's life establish a foundation for all the years that follow, because most key learnings occur early in life. For example, the foundations for language learning are established when a child is about a year old. The ability to control one's aggressive behaviour and to feel empathy for others usually develop before a child's third birthday. On a physical level, the effects of a poor diet during the first few years of a child's life often permanently stunt growth and other aspects of physical development.

Early intervention prekindergartens have proven effective at mitigating some of the effects of poverty and a stressful environment and at increasing children's odds for living healthy, happy, productive lives.

Well known examples of early intervention programs include:

For more information about the factors that can inhibit children's growth and development, the importance of positive experiences early in life, and protective factors refer to the publication:

An early intervention prekindergarten provides experiences for threeand four-year-olds that contribute to their intellectual, social and physical development. Children typically attend a prekindergarten program half days for four or five days a week, nine or ten months per year, for both their third and fourth years of life.


Contents


Why Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs?

What benefits do early intervention prekindergarten programs have for children, families and communities? Do these programs benefit schools? How long do benefits last?

Benefits for Children

Research indicates that early intervention prekindergarten programs produce an initial increase in I.Q. scores which tend to level off over time. However, they have many benefits for children that are not related to I.Q. Children who participate in early intervention programs:


Contents


Benefits for Families

Most early intervention prekindergarten programs have a strong parent education component. When parents learn new parenting skills the quality of interaction between parent and child improves, with benefits for both.


Contents


Benefits for Schools

Children who have participated in early intervention prekindergarten:


Contents


Benefits for Society

In the long run, early intervention prekindergarten programs save society money, because the children who participate in these programs are less likely to require social services and to be in trouble with the law and more likely to have jobs. Children who participated in the Perry Preschool Project in Ypsilanti Michigan between 1962 and 1965 were tracked until they were 27 years old. A cost-benefit analysis of this program showed that the benefits of the program to society as a whole represented a return of $8.74 on each dollar spent.

In the long run, it may be more effective, economically and educationally, for boards of education to spend their resources on early intervention programs than to wait until children are older and focus on special education programs, stay-in-school programs, programs for pregnant teens and adolescents with behaviour disorders, and similar types of interventions.


Contents


What Responsibility Do Boards of Education Have for Early Intervention Preschool Programs?

The Present

Presently, The Education Act, 1995 gives boards of education the right to provide programming for preschool children only in two specific circumstances.

1. Medical and Dental Examinations The Act provides that schools are to include a 13-year program: kindergarten for the one year prior to the year in which a child starts grade 1, five years at the elementary level, four years at the middle level, and three years at the secondary level.

The Act describes what boards may do with regard to pupils, not children. A pupil is someone who is enrolled in a school. A child does not have a right to attend school any earlier than the age of six. In section 190 of The Act there is an exception to the concept that boards of education may provide services only to pupils. That section allows a board of education to "... provide for medical and dental examination and treatment of pupils and of children under the age of seven years ...". The Act clearly makes a distinction between those children who are enrolled in a school program and those who are not.

2. High Cost Disabled Children One other exception is in regard to high cost disabled children. Section 52 of The Education Regulations, 1986 permits a board of education to provide special education services for "... pre-school age disabled children identified ..." in accordance with the Regulations.


Contents


The Future

It has been demonstrated that children who participate in early intervention programs have better academic performance and fewer behaviour problems when they enter the K-12 system than children who do not. Because of these positive results, there is a growing trend throughout North America to provide early intervention programs for those children who can benefit the most from them. Early intervention programs make it easier for boards of education to meet the needs of children when they enter regular school.

As Saskatchewan educators increasingly recognize the value of prekindergarten education and as programs become more common, the issue of boards of education's right and responsibility to offer such programs is gradually being clarified.


Contents


Program Guidelines

Is there a curriculum guide for early intervention prekindergarten? What guidelines should we follow? Are there specific regulations that apply to prekindergarten?

At present, there is no curriculum guide specifically for prekindergarten programs. However, the following three documents provide some direction:

Saskatchewan Education has developed two bibliographies of resources for kindergarten. Many of the items in these bibliographies are also relevant to early intervention prekindergarten programs.


Contents


Getting Started

What are the first steps in getting an early intervention prekindergarten program going?  How do we encourage parents to send their children? How do we get community support for the program?

Students aged seven to sixteen are required by law to attend school. However, there is no such requirement for early intervention prekindergarten. Attendance is voluntary and parents will only send their children if they believe that their children and/or families will benefit from the program. Thus, community support for and community ownership of an early intervention prekindergarten program is the key to its success.

The first step in getting an early intervention prekindergarten program started (along with identifying funding sources) is to build community support. As part of this process, it may be appropriate to show parents and community members videotapes of an existing early intervention program and to explain the kinds of activities in which children will be participating. If parents' or caregivers' own experiences of schooling were humiliating and hurtful, they will be reluctant to send their young children to school until they are sure that their children's experiences at school will be happy.

Ideas for building community support and ownership include:


Contents


Management of the Early Intervention Prekindergarten Program

What role does the prekindergarten advisory committee play? How are the responsibilities of board of education, prekindergarten advisory committee, director of education, principal and teacher determined? Does a Community School need both a Community School Council and a prekindergarten advisory committee?

For most classrooms, management responsibilities begin with the board of education and flow through the director of education, to the principal, to the classroom teacher. In Community Schools, there is a Community School Council which advises the principal and other staff. Most early intervention prekindergarten programs have an additional management body, the prekindergarten advisory committee, made up of parents and community members.

A prekindergarten committee is important even when there is a Community School Council, because the roles of the two bodies are somewhat different. The Community School Council advises on the overall operation of the school. The prekindergarten committee focuses only on the early intervention prekindergarten program. The prekindergarten committee's role is to advise teacher and principal, but this body is also a vehicle for parent education and empowerment. Often participation in an advisory committee increases parents'/caregivers' understanding of what is appropriate behaviour for young children and their parents and thus improves the quality of parenting that children receive. Similarly, if parents'/caregivers' self-confidence increases as a result of participation in such a committee, children benefit.

Some prekindergarten advisory committees not only advise teacher and principal, but also play an important role as a link between the prekindergarten and the community.

The roles and responsibilities of the board of education, Community School Council, prekindergarten advisory committee, principal and teacher will vary somewhat from one prekindergarten to another, and from one board of education to another. Thus, it is important that roles and responsibilities be defined in writing and that they be reviewed from time to time. Clear definition of roles and responsibilities right from the beginning will help ensure maximum efficiency and will prevent confusion.


Contents


Budget and Funding

What items are in the budget of a typical early intervention prekindergarten program?What are potential sources of funding for prekindergarten programs?

Budget

The budget for an early intervention prekindergarten program can be broken down into two categories establishment costs and operating costs.

Establishment Costs

Operating Costs

The operating costs below are identified as if the prekindergarten program is located in a separate building. If it is located in a school, costs such as custodians' salaries may be absorbed in the larger school budget.


Contents


Sources of Funding

Schools that are designated Community Schools are eligible for provincial government funding under the Community School Prekindergarten Program. Most boards of education wishing to establish prekindergarten programs in schools that are not designated Community Schools will find it necessary to rely upon board funds to cover ongoing costs such as salaries. Other potential sources of project or specific-purpose funding include:

Note: The above funding information was correct as of April 1997. Because government funding programs change frequently, boards of education are advised to check all potential federal, provincial, municipal government and community funding sources.


Contents


Staffing

What is an appropriate staff/child ratio? What is an appropriate group size? What qualifications should the staff have? What inservice does the staff need?

Staff/Child Ratio

The Saskatchewan Child Care Regulations specify that the maximum legally permissable staff/child ratio is 1:10 and that the maximum legally permissible group size is 20 children. Although these limits are adequate for safety and supervision, they are too high for the type of personal, intensive, one-on-one interaction that characterizes a good early intervention prekindergarten program.

In a prekindergarten program, the lower the staff/child ratio the better. The ideal is 1:6 and the maximum for an effective educational program is 1:8. The ideal group size is 12 children and the maximum group size for an effective program is 16 children.

The desired staff/child ratio is usually achieved by having one teacher and one or more teacher assistants for each group of 12 to 16 children.

If there are special needs children in the prekindergarten program, the staff/child ratio will need to be much lower. Special needs children include those who, for example, have a severe behaviour disorder and those who are multiply handicapped. Sometimes when a class includes a special needs child, a teacher assistant is assigned specifically to that child.


Contents


Staff Qualifications

Staff qualifications can be considered in two categories personal characteristics and formal training.

Personal Characteristics

Effective prekindergarten teachers and teacher assistants have the following personal characteristics:

Formal Training

The teacher should have a Bachelor of Education degree with a focus on Early Childhood Education. Ideally, the teacher will also have worked in a child care centre or some other situation that provides experience with threeand four-year-olds. If the teacher originally came from the community, s/he will understand the students' situations better and be more accepted in the community.

A qualified teacher is important. Formal teacher education:

The teacher assistant is usually someone from the community who has experience working with young children. Ideally, s/he will also have a SIAST Certificate in Early Childhood Education or some university classes in education.


Contents


Hours of Work

Most prekindergarten programs are half day (three hours). However, the teacher's work doesn't end when the children go home. Making home visits, meeting with parents at school and meeting with representatives of other agencies that are serving the children and their families are important parts of the teacher's job. Therefore, some prekindergarten teachers' formal, paid workday is four or five hours long.

The teacher assistant will help the teacher get materials ready and will set up learning centres and so will need to work for an hour or so each day in addition to the time spent with the children.


Contents


Staff Inservice

Both prekindergarten teachers and teacher assistants need the following types of inservice:


Contents


Facilities

Where should the early intervention prekindergarten be located? How big should it be? What type of play areas are needed? What special features should the prekindergarten classroom have?

When a prekindergarten program is operated by a board of education, the program will usually be located in a school. Using space in an existing school means that there will be few additional costs for heat, water etc. However, some teachers working in existing prekindergartens say that parents/caregivers are more willing to send their children when the prekindergarten is located in a community centre or church basement than when it is located in a school. If the prekindergarten is located away from the school, it is important to check on responsibility for insurance arrangements.

Regardless of where the prekindergarten is located, it should have access to five areas a classroom, washrooms, a storeroom/workroom, an outdoor play area and an indoor play area.


Contents


Classroom

The Saskatchewan Child Care Regulations specify that there must be at least 3.25 square metres of usable floor area for each child. However, the prekindergarten classroom should be larger than this to accommodate several learning centres and a variety of activities.

An ideal classroom has these structural features:

Organizing the Classroom

Learning centres are an important part of the prekindergarten program. A learning centre contains materials and equipment around a common theme. It has space for one to six children. Typical learning centres and a few examples of the materials in each include:

The themes around which centres can be created are virtually unlimited. Other common themes are playdough centre, listening centre, book corner, block building centre, play store and play office. At the beginning of the year, each centre contains only basic materials. During the course of the year the teacher adds more materials and equipment or changes the materials in each centre. The teacher might also change the centres during the year, replacing a play store centre with an office centre, for example. However, basic centres such as sand, water, books and listening should be consistent throughout the year.

In addition to learning centres and a personal space for each child, the classroom should have:

The classroom should be organized so that busy activities are in one part of the room, quiet activities in another, and so that messy activities (sand centre, water centre, painting centre) are on the tiled floor area and near the sink.

It is important that the classroom be set up so children can get the materials and equipment they need, and so they don't have to depend on adults to get and return items from high shelves or to distribute materials. A well planned classroom gives children opportunities to be independent.


Contents


Washrooms

The Saskatchewan Child Care Regulations specify that there must be at least one toilet and one sink for every 15 children and that the toilets and sinks must be located so that children can use them independently.

Although separate washroom facilities for boys and girls are not required by law at the preschool level, it is a good idea to have one washroom for boys and another for girls. It is also desirable to have separate washrooms for the teachers and other adults.


Contents


Storeroom/Workroom

The storeroom/workroom is used to store paper, art supplies and other materials needed for the learning program. It might also be used to store nonperishable food for the nutrition program. This room has counters and tables where teachers can prepare materials for student use. It often contains equipment such as a laminating press, a cutting board and a three-hole punch. In the interests of safety, the storeroom/workroom should be locked all the time that children are at school.


Contents


Outdoor Play Area

The outdoor play area should be fenced so that children can't run into the street. It should be located so that the children won't be bothered by older students and so that the young children aren't in danger when older students are playing softball, football or other vigorous games.

A typical outdoor play area for prekindergarten children has four areas:

Swings and teeter-totters are not appropriate for threeand four-year-old children. For outdoor play, children of this age will enjoy sturdy riding and pull toys, balls and beanbags, and sand toys such as pails, shovels and miniature figures.


Contents


Indoor Play Area

The indoor play area can be located in an empty classroom or hallway, or children can go to the gym for vigorous activity. If an empty classroom is used it should have a tile floor and be free of safety hazards such as protruding drinking fountains and shelves, and stored furniture.


Contents


The Learning Program

What are the components of the early intervention prekindergarten learning program? What is the role of play in learning? What are appropriate activities? What are inappropriate activities? How can we promote children's social and emotional development? What type of physical activity do the children need? How is a typical day scheduled

Play is the way that young children learn about the world and make sense of the world. Play is children's "work". In a good early intervention prekindergarten program most learning occurs through play. For example, when a child builds a tower with blocks, she is developing muscular coordination, learning about balance and proportion, and learning patience and perseverance. When a child plays roles such as dentist, baby, store clerk, mom, he explores the behaviour patterns he believes are appropriate for those individuals and gets responses from others to his behaviour. Some children who enter an early intervention program will have had little experience of play. Their experiences will have been mainly vigorous physical activity (running and jumping) and passive activities such as watching TV and playing video games. Thus, developing the skills associated with play (imagination, attention span, making choices) will be a goal for some children.

In a good prekindergarten program, activities grow out of the children's interests and the teacher does not impose a predetermined curriculum upon them. In a typical mixed-age group of threeand four-year-olds the children's mental age will range from about 18 months to seven years. Thus, no predetermined program will meet the needs of all children.

The prekindergarten learning program has three components intellectual development, social/emotional development and physical development. These components are interrelated, but are discussed separately below for convenience.


Contents


Intellectual Development

In an early intervention prekindergarten program, children's intellectual development occurs through activities such as:

Activities that are inappropriate in an early intervention prekindergarten classroom are those that are too difficult for the children, those that tend to stifle creativity rather than expand it, and those that encourage regimentation. Inappropriate prekindergarten environments and activities can do lasting harm and can cause children to dislike school and to view learning as a chore rather than a joy. A few examples of inappropriate activities include:


Contents


Social/Emotional Development

Children's social and emotional development occurs through their everyday interaction with the teacher, teacher associate and other children; through self-chosen play activities; and through establishment of routines. The learning program in an early intervention prekindergarten program helps children to:


Contents


Physical Development

Physical development includes both fine and large muscle development. Activities that promote small muscle development and coordination include transferring small objects from one container to another, painting, using pegs and pegboards, and manipulating clay.

Activities that promote large muscle development and coordination include pouring sand and water, running, jumping, climbing, play with riding toys, throwing and catching balls, and marching games.

In addition to promoting large and small muscle development, all the activities listed above have other educational benefits. For example, using pegs and pegboards helps children learn the difference between round, square and triangular shapes, throwing a ball is a skill that is essential for most sports throughout life, and marching games teach rhythm.

The prekindergarten program should include some vigorous physical activity every day. Physical activity is essential for health and also is an outlet for extra energy. In nice weather, children can go outside. When it is very hot or very cold out, an indoor play space is important.


Contents


A Typical Day

9:00 a.m. Opening activities.

9:30 a.m. Centre time - children choose the centre they will work at.

11:00 a.m. Physical activity outdoors or indoors includes a balance between teacher-directed activities such as throwing balls and marching games, and self-selected activities such as running and jumping.

11:30 a.m.

11:50 a.m.

Note: When many of the children come to school hungry, it is important to have breakfast or a hearty snack first thing in the morning in addition to, or instead of, the mid-morning snack.

In many schools, this same routine will be repeated in the afternoon with a second group of children.


Contents


The Nutrition Program

Why is a nutrition program important? What makes a good nutrition program? Who is responsible for the nutrition program?

Most programs for preschoolers include a snack, because young children have small stomachs and need to eat frequently. An early morning snack and/or breakfast and/or lunch is doubly important in an early intervention prekindergarten where some of the children will come to school hungry. The nutrition program serves four purposes. It:

The prekindergarten staff should be aware of any food allergies that individual children might have. Typically when children start prekindergarten, the teacher or the public health nurse gets a medical history from the parent/caregiver. This medical history should include information about allergies.

The nutrition program should be built around:

Save sweets for special occasions such as community celebrations. Avoid junk food such as pop and chips, and foods that a young child might choke on such as popcorn and nuts.

For sample menus and suggested serving sizes, refer to: Saskatchewan Social Services, Child Day Care Division, (1993), Nutrition and Food Service in the Child Care Facility, Regina, SK.

Some children may have had little experience with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, and milk and may initially reject these foods. When this is the case, focus on healthy foods that children like and gradually introduce the more unfamiliar foods.

The nutrition program requires a considerable amount of planning and preparation. It will be necessary to:

The heart of the program is planning menus and shopping for food. This goes smoothest when one person is responsible for it all year. In a Community School the nutrition coordinator and the prekindergarten teacher will likely plan menus together and the nutrition coordinator will do the shopping. In a school that does not have Community School status, this work can be done by the teacher, the teacher assistant, a paid part-time person from the community, or a reliable volunteer parent, community member or high school student.

Whenever possible, food should be prepared in the classroom so that the children have an opportunity to watch and ask questions. Children should participate in food preparation and serving to the extent of their ability. (For health reasons, each child should handle only his/her own food.) For example, a threeor four-year-old will enjoy and learn from:

While menu planning and shopping is best done by one person throughout the year, parent and community volunteers often are responsible for preparation, serving and clean up. The person responsible for the nutrition program can prepare a weekly volunteer schedule, contact volunteers and arrange for backup when a volunteer cancels at the last minute.


Contents


The Health Program

What are the components of the health program? What action is taken when children have health problems? How does the teacher prepare the children for health screening and medical procedures?

Ensuring that children's immunizations are up to date and promoting good physical and dental health are important goals for an early intervention prekindergarten program. Typically, when parents/caregivers register their children for school they are asked for information about their child's medical history and a medical information form is completed.

Parents/caregivers are also asked to sign a health form which gives permission for their child to:

When a child needs a hearing aid, glasses, dental work or other medical attention, the action taken varies. In some cases, the teacher and/or health professional talk to the parents, explain the child's needs and support the parent in making the necessary appointments. In cases where parents aren't able to take the actions necessary to meet their child's health needs, the teacher and/or health professional involves the family's social worker in order to get medical attention for the child.

Working with the children so they aren't afraid of health professionals is an important part of the teacher's job. The teacher should always explain what is going to happen and why. In addition, play activities will help familiarize children with medical procedures. For example:


Contents


Parent Involvement

Why is parent involvement important? What type of parent involvement is most useful? What types of parent involvement activities have proven successful?

In addition to a community-based advisory committee most early intervention prekindergarten programs have a strong parent involvement/parent education component. This involvement benefits both child and parent. There is a huge body of research which shows that when parents are actively involved in their children's education, children do better in school. Research also shows that the type of parent involvement that is most effective is involvement that responds to parents' needs as adults, rather than involvement that teaches parents to be teachers of their own children. Examples of parents' needs include the need for interaction with other parents in similar situations, the desire to be a better parent, the desire for a better life for themselves and their children, the need for increased self-esteem.

Family involvement should not be limited to parents. When children live with or have close ties with their grandparents, aunts and uncles or adult siblings, these extended family members play an important part in the prekindergarten program.

Typical parent involvement activities include:

In general, the best approach is to respond to the interests and needs of parents and community, rather than imposing activities on them. Information about needs and interests can be provided by the prekindergarten advisory committee and gathered during home visits. For example, formal courses on parenting skills and literacy programs are appropriate if parents express an interest in them, but would be inappropriate if they are something only the teacher or principal believes would be a good idea.


Contents


When Children are Abused

How do you recognize abuse? What is the school's responsibility in cases of abuse? What procedures must be followed when abuse is suspected?

It is not uncommon for children in early intervention prekindergarten programs to be subjected to physical, sexual or psychological abuse by their parents, caregivers, siblings or other family or community members. They might also experience neglect (being left alone; being hungry, cold, inadequately dressed). The teacher, principal or other school staff may become aware of abuse through the child's appearance or the child's behaviour. For example, a child who is frequently covered with bruises, or one whose play involves highly sexual behaviour, frequent hitting, or harsh scoldings may be an abused child. In other cases, the school staff will become aware of abuse when the child describes activities in the home or community that are abusive.

When child abuse is suspected, the school staff have a legal obligation to report it promptly to one of Saskatchewan Social Service's child protection workers or the police. The procedures that must be followed when child abuse is suspected are outlined in the Government of Saskatchewan's Provincial Child Abuse Protocol available from the provincial departments of Health, Justice, Social Services, Education and Municipal Government. Some boards of education have their own child abuse protocol which is usually a refinement of the provincial document.


Contents


Transportation

Why is transportation important? What are some transportation options? What safety guidelines must be considered?

Some early intervention prekindergarten programs provide transportation for the children. Transportation is important for those children who live too far from the school to walk, since some families do not have cars. It is also important for those children who live close to the school, but whose mothers or caregivers have several other children at home and so cannot accompany them to school. Transportation arrangements vary from one prekindergarten to another and depend upon the number of children to be transported and the services available in the community. Some possible transportation arrangements include:

Regardless of the transportation arrangements that are made, it is important to establish safety routines. For example:

It is important that any adults who are alone with one or more children for lengthy periods of time, which is sometimes the case in a transportation situation, be thoroughly screened to ensure children's personal safety.

If individuals are contracted to transport children they must have a valid driver's licence, valid plates on their vehicle and must meet all of the board of education's insurance requirements.


Contents


Special Situations

How do we modify the structure of an early intervention prekindergarten program to meet our special circumstances?

"We only have a few at risk threeand four-year-olds in our community not enough to start our own program."

In this situation there are two options:

  1. Purchase places in an existing community prekindergarten programs for those children who need it. The guidelines in this document will help you assess whether an existing program is adequate for your children's needs. If it is not, it might be less expensive to support a local community prekindergarten program to upgrade than to establish a program for only two or three children.
  2. Operate a split grade prekindergarten/kindergarten program. The type of learning environment required for these two kinds of programs is quite similar. However, kindergarten children are older and thus are capable of more complex tasks and more independent behaviour than threeand four-year olds. In this situation, it is important that the program provide for a wide range of interests and abilities and for individualized attention. If you decide to operate a split grade class, a good solution is to hire an additional teacher assistant to lower the staff/child ratio and give the prekindergarten children the intensive, individualized support they need.

"We are a rural community and most of our students are bussed. Our kindergarten children go to school all day, every other day. How can we schedule a prekindergarten?

A full-day, every other day prekindergarten program is not a good idea for three reasons:

Rather than having three and four-year-olds attend for a full day, it is better to consider creative options for transportation such as those described in the previous section.

"We can only accommodate 16 children in our prekindergarten, but the families of at least twice that number have expressed interest in the program. What should we do?"

In this situation, it is important to set up a screening process, so that the children with the greatest need are accepted into the program first. Criteria for screening might be established jointly by the teacher, the public health nurse, a representative of Saskatchewan Social Services and a community representative. Children who are not initially accepted into the program could be placed on a waiting list in case vacancies occur during the year.


Contents


Assessment and Evaluation

How will we know if children are making progress? How will we know if our program is a good one?

Two interrelated types of assessment and evaluation are important student assessment and evaluation and program assessment and evaluation.

Student Assessment and Evaluation

Most children will make progress in prekindergarten, but progress will be different for different children. For one child progress might be learning to use a spoon or go to the bathroom unassisted. For another child, progress will be telling a long and detailed story. For yet another child, progress will be learning to join a play group courteously and politely. The speed at which children progress will also vary. Some will show progress immediately. Others will need several months of play and individual attention before they begin to show progress.

Student evaluation is important because it tells us how much progress children are making in specific areas. If a child does not make progress after a period of time, this is an indication that the program for that child must be changed in some way. Tools which may be used to assess children's progress include:


Contents


Program Assessment and Evaluation

Program evaluation involves examining all aspects of a program to determine whether the goals of the program are being met. Children First, the provincial kindergarten curriculum guide, provides suggestions for evaluating the kindergarten program. With some modification, these suggestions are also appropriate for the prekindergarten program.

Children First suggests that the program elements which might be evaluated include:


Contents


Resources

Which Children Benefit From an Early Intervention Program

The Benefits of Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs

Guidelines for Early Intervention Prekindergarten Programs

Menus for the Nutrition Program

When Children are Abused

Additional Resources


Contents

Back to: Students - Diverse Needs