Archive for Sunday, November 1, 2009

Little Steps helps kids transition to public school

November 1, 2009


Early childhood programs

Here is a look at the child development programs operated by Kansas University’s department of applied behavioral science. Each program operates Monday through Friday. Click on for more information about them.

• Sunnyside Infant-Toddler Program is an inclusive program for nine infants and 12 toddlers. The program works to create a nurturing and educational environment for each child.

• Educare I and II Preschool Program is a fully inclusive preschool program to help children develop, learn and express themselves. Classroom learning experiences are created to meet each child’s needs and help the children work cooperatively and gain hands-on involvement in classroom activities.

• Little Steps ABA Early Intervention Program is an early intervention program focused on providing a highly specific, individualized curriculum for children with developmental disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome. The program focuses on helping children gain skills necessary for attending public schools.

A new preschool program at Kansas University may be called “Little Steps,” but its potential community impact is anything but small.

Its influence can already be seen in the wide smile of a young boy playing video games in the Little Steps classroom. The boy is a student in the new program, which focuses on early intervention for young children with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and mental retardation.

The class is an important addition to the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center, which is in Haworth Hall on the KU campus, said Pamela Neidert, assistant professor of applied behavioral science.

“We felt that, although there are a lot of strengths, that was one thing that the community was sort of missing. We had this classroom space and we wanted to have the ability to do more early intervention,” she said.

Plans for the program formed more than a year ago, and the preschool officially opened last summer under the direction of Neidert and Claudia Dozier, also an assistant professor of applied behavioral science.

To get the program started, Dozier and Neidert last spring taught a class of graduate students who worked on the program’s design. To form a curriculum, they visited many similar programs around the country.

“It was well worth our time and energy to do that,” Dozier said.

The Little Steps classroom is licensed to serve children ages 2 to 7. The class is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and is taught by four undergraduate students who are pursuing degrees in applied behavioral science and specializing in early childhood education. Two graduate students supervise the undergrads.

Currently, two children are enrolled. The preschool’s goal is to help the children transition from Little Steps into Educare, a more inclusive preschool in the Child Development Center, and then to public schools.

“Severe problem behavior oftentimes makes that transition into public schools difficult for kids, so the earlier we can get that under control, the better off it is,” Dozier said. “We are more than willing to take children who are into aggressive behaviors, which I think maybe makes us a little different than public schools.”

Nicole Carlisle, a graduate student working with the Little Steps program, thinks those differences make the preschool a strong, balanced program.

“We’re trying to encompass the whole thing — to be able to help the kids, to add to the community, to train undergraduates and graduates,” Carlisle said.


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