I. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
A. PROGRAM OVERVIEW
The CHIME Preschool and Kindergarten Inclusion Program in operation since 1991 provides special education and related services in the context of the early education classrooms at the Child and Family Studies Center (CFSC) at California State University, Northridge. The CHIME Institute rents space for children with disabilities in each of the preschool and kindergarten classrooms at the CFSC.
This program is an alternative to public school programs for children ages three through six years. It provides an educational and therapeutic program in which special education, speech and language therapy, and other needed services are provided in an integrated fashion in the context of the general classroom.
The goal of this program is to facilitate children's development by (1) providing access to the regular early education program, including its curriculum, environment, and inclusion with typically developing peers; and (2) providing transdisciplinary early intervention in a developmentally appropriate context.
B. CURRICULUM AND PROGRAM
The CHIME curriculum facilitates children's development in all domains, including language/ communication, social, adaptive, problem solving, social, and fine and gross motor.
The program has an emphasis on child-initiated activity and learning through exploration and play. Children who have disabilities may need extra support to succeed in this type of learning environment. CHIME staff help children to learn to select and complete activities with increasing independence, to initiate and sustain play with peers, and to use appropriate language and social skills to solve problems and conflicts as they arise.
Individual activity plans are developed and implemented on a daily basis to address each child's IEP (Individualized Education Program) objectives. These plans are carried out in both regular classroom activities and in small group or individual sessions with a paraprofessional or special education teacher. Progress is monitored on a regular basis through daily and weekly written notes, as well as regular reviews at staffing meetings.
Speech and Language therapy is
provided in the context of the regular classroom and
outdoor curriculum activities and routines to facilitate
language and communication in a social context. Each
child’s program is individualized and targeted support is
provided throughout the school day. By bringing the
expertise of the professional to the classroom recommended
strategies are modeled and taught to the rest of the
C. The Inclusion Team
Inclusion is a team effort combining the expertise of general early childhood educators, special educators, designated instructional services (i.e., speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, adapted physical education teachers, etc.), and parents. This requires ongoing, intensive collaboration with time and resources for joint planning, staff development, and reflection on the success of the program.
The inclusion team consists of the general and special education teachers, paraprofessionals, designated instructional services personnel and other consultants; and the parents and other family members.
The CHIME inclusion specialist
(special education teacher), a professional with expertise
in early childhood-special education, develops and models
classroom modifications, lesson plans, and intervention
strategies. The special education teacher partners with
the general education teacher to provide planning,
teaching and assessment. In addition, together, the
teachers supervise the inclusion assistants
(paraprofessionals), who are usually assigned on a ratio
of one assistant to two or three children with
Family involvement and support are key elements of this program. Parents are encouraged to participate in the parent groups and activities offered by the general early education programs. In addition, the CHIME Institute offers ongoing educational and support groups for all parents.
Paraprofessionals are asked to make a one-year commitment to the program to develop their skills and rapport with the children.