I’ve been thinking lately about how I would sum up my teaching priorities for my Early Childhood Special Ed. students. Well, more accurately, I have been thinking about the differences between teaching General Education and Special Ed. preschool, and in turn about how I work differently now that I teach Sped preschool. I suppose if I were giving a quick answer, I would say that teaching ECSped brings me to teach much more deliberately. When I taught general ed, I would concentrate on social skills, a few preacademic skills, and increasing their general knowledge. For the most part, most of my students would make sufficient progress in most basic areas with this wide-spread approach.
However, you have to be much more intentional about ECSped. To begin with, each student has an IEP, with specific goals that are my legal responsibility to try and meet. As such, these are my first priorities with each student. However, we don’t just work on those goals alone. In general, we also spend our time working any of the following areas that might fall out of the range of their IEP goals. These areas are shown by my graphic above, and are listed here:
- Math Skills: Numeracy, Spatial Concepts, Comparative Concepts
- Early Literacy: Letter skills and Phonetic/Phonemic Awareness
- Fine/Gross Motor: Establishing and Refining the small and large body skills to accomplish age-appropriate tasks
- Language: Teaching student to using words to get what they want, think and need. **If I remade my graphic, I would have put the “Language” section first under “IEP Goals” to emphasize how much of a priority it is in my classroom. Even a Speech/Language Therapist spend two days a week with us, I still try to work on language constantly – it’s just that important.
- Social/Emotional (which include Behavioral): Self Regulation and Interacting with Others
- General Knowledge – Presentation of general, thematic knowledge to increase their knowledge base
With these basic areas established as my priorities, I try and consider them as I plan each of my activities. No longer do I just plan activities because they are “cute” or “go with this holiday”. As much as possible, I try to use everything that we do to support growth in these priority areas. Obviously, some of these activities are still “cute” and “go with the holiday”. However, it is my hope that I am using these activities as a means to an end – the end being the development of my Little People in all of the above areas during their time in my classroom.