Meyer Center starts pilot program for preschoolers
Preschoolers have a unique opportunity this fall to be a part of a classroom that could change their lives.
At the Meyer Center for Special Children, a pilot program – Inclusion Works! – will bring students with special needs and their neurotypical peers together in a classroom that will prepare them for life.
“Right now, we are opening two classes in the fall – one is for 3s and one is for 4s,” Heather Boyd, Director of Education at The Meyer Center, said.
Each of those preschool classrooms will have 12 students, an equal mix of current Meyer Center students with diagnosed disabilities and their neurotypical peers. Classes will have three adults in the room with those 12 students, including one certified teacher and two assistants.
The benefits of inclusive classrooms can be many and they can include all students. The program is designed to provide a structured environment where children can build self-esteem and positive social experiences, as well as develop compassion and an understanding of diversity.
“It’s going to academically and socially challenge our students,” Boyd said. “For our neurotypical students, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn advocacy.”
The classes will use the Big Day for Pre-K curriculum.
“It is research based,” Boyd said. “It includes the typical curriculum, accommodations for kids with disabilities or special needs and also enrichment for kids who need an extra push.”
A few spots remain for neurotypical children. The program closely follows the Greenville County Schools calendar and allows for time with peers of all ability levels, opportunities for field trips and weekly visits to library, music, art, science lab and PE. Boyd stressed that this not a day care program.
“They’re going to get the academic challenge, as much or more challenging as any other preschool in the Greenville are,” she said.
Perhaps most importantly, it sets the stage for lessons that can last a lifetime.
“They learn really important advocacy skills for their peers,” Boyd said.
- Inclusion Works! is 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., with early care available beginning at 7:30 a.m. and an afterschool program that runs until 6 p.m.
- Children with disabilities are eligible for free public education beginning at age 3. For them, the program acts as a charter school. For neurotypical students, the program acts as a tuition-based private school. Tuition for neurotypical students is $175 every 2 weeks ($3,850 annually). Afterschool care from 2 – 6 p.m. is $70 per week.
- Students must be age 3 or 4 by Sept. 1, 2017, have age-appropriate development and be toilet trained. Parents must provide transportation for typical peers.
- To learn more, visit http://meyercenter.org.