The mission of Bedford Public Schools Integrated Preschool Program is to provide strong peer role models for our children with disabilities. A peer role model is characterized as a child who builds positive relationships with peers, has strong pre-academic, motor, and play skills, and who presents as a language model. Each year, a preschool screening process is conducted to assure that students with disabilities are provided with ample opportunities to interact and learn from typically developing children in their neighborhood. It is also the conviction of the BPS integrated preschool staff that the interaction of students with and without special needs is mutually enriching. It produces an opportunity for the neighborhood students to develop leadership qualities as well as compassion, patience, and acceptance of differences.
The preschool screening process is conducted in January this year for placement opportunities in the preschool program for the fall enrollment of that year. All neighborhood children must be three years of age by August 31st for September enrollment. Each year, neighborhood children are screened using various developmentally appropriate screening tools. Screenings are carried out by the preschool team which may include the preschool teacher, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, early childhood director, and physical therapist. Neighborhood children are expected to demonstrate developmentally appropriate language skills, socialization and play skills, emotional regulation skills as well as gross motor and fine motor ability. The screening process identifies the strengths of each child observed and recommendations are made for enrollment based on those strengths.
Following the screening, parents receive a letter from the Early Childhood Director stating the outcome of their child's preschool screening. The preschool classes have limited space for neighborhood students and therefore can only accept a small number of students. The team does their best to choose peer models whose characteristics will help further the development of the students with disabilities. If a child is not accepted into the program, he/she is placed on a wait list and may go through the preschool screening process the following year. If, by chance, openings become available in the fall, a second preschool screening is scheduled and parents are contacted to participate if interested.
The preschool team appreciates parents' understanding of the preschool screening process that is put into place to ensure that children with disabilities are given the tools they need to be successful. Should parents have any questions regarding this process, Tanya Kalantari, Early Childhood Director for the Bedford Public Schools, is available to respond to those questions, at (781) 275-1700 ext. 3248.