Preschool children thrive at new Terrace Road Early Development Centre
Twins Sophia and Lochlan and two other children sit at a table surrounded by paper and crayons at the CBE's new Terrace Road Early Development Centre (EDC), opened this fall. The three-year old twins have been experiencing challenges with speech and language development. Their small hands grip crayons with determination as they draw.
Lochlan focuses his attention on drawing.
The Early Development Centres are early-intervention classrooms designed to provide educational programming for preschool children with identified exceptional needs. These learners may be experiencing delays in speech and language, physical and motor development. By providing focused attention to these learners at an early age, the CBE can better prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.
Youthful voices chatter excitedly as you walk into the Terrace Road EDC classroom. Children shout out colours and letters, and their eyes light up with pride when the teacher acknowledges their participation. By keeping classes small, with a low adult-to-child ratio, the children receive the early intervention and attention they need. The EDC allows young children to build confidence in a school setting, while enhancing their social and physical development. Learning through play also helps develop their fine and gross motor skills.
Sophia and Lochlan are receiving learning support in the same program. In the three months the Terrace Road facility has been open, they have both undergone some remarkable changes. Their mother, Tanya Donais, says that her children were difficult to place in the same program because of their different developmental strengths and areas of need. When the Terrace Road EDC opened up, she jumped at the chance to enroll them. "Just brilliant. We lucked out, and I feel blessed that we are a part of this program. I always ask the kids at night what their favourite part of the day has been, and they always pick school. It makes my heart happy. They love it."
Children enjoy laughing and playing beanbag game.
Angela Klassen, an EDC teacher with 18 years of teaching experience, moves around the classroom handing out praise and helping children improve their language skills. Laughter rings out as the kids make a game of standing on small circles while trying to balance a beanbag on their heads. The game helps improve fine and gross motor skills. "Some of the children were not speaking when they came to us three months ago. Already we are seeing a difference. Our kids are learning how to articulate sounds, express themselves and use language to learn and socialize with their peers as well as developing independence. The kids are more confident and willing to talk and try. They are finding their own voice. That is the best part of what this program does," said Klassen.
Fred Bulloch, the principal at Terrace Road School, says the attentive support provided by a full-time teacher, an education assistant and a full-time speech language assistant in the classroom has allowed the children to progress by leaps and bounds. "The goal of the early intervention program is to get the children that have exceptional needs into their regular community school for Grade 1," said Bulloch. "We have some very, very happy parents. They are seeing progress in the short time that we have been open. The kids that started here were not interacting with their environment or verbalizing. Every day I see the teachers and staff drawing out the children's personalities; this was held back before due to their challenges with communication."
Fred Bulloch, principal at Terrace Road School, joins in the fun.
Further support for parents and children is also provided by Family Oriented Programming (FOP). FOP facilitators are professionals who work with parents and children in groups and individually to extend learning opportunities in the home and support families with learning goals for their children.
Donais has incorporated ideas from Family Oriented Programming into her home life. "It gives brilliant ideas on how we can help our children and offers us another resource for parents. I am standing back more as they are learning to be more independent. But the biggest thing is their grandparents can understand them now, and they are developing a relationship with each other. Sophia will try to say a word like snow that she has been practicing at school, and she will correct herself, which is fantastic. They are much more social and are transforming into little people. This program is helping the parents. But it is also telling us that our kids can do a lot more then we thought they could," said Donais.
In addition to Terrace Road, other Early Development Centres are located at:
Children's Village School
1210 Russet Road NE
Calgary AB T2E 5L5
Deer Run School
2127 - 146 Avenue SE
Calgary AB T2J 6P8
James Short Memorial School
6333 - 5 Avenue SE
Calgary AB T2A 3V7
More information about CBE Early Development Centres
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January 4, 2013