OUR CHILD DEVELOPMENT TEAM (CDT)
Each child is unique, and we take great care to meet each child where she or he is.
Judith has been working professionally with children and families since 1992. She loves working collaboratively with parents and teachers to provide children with opportunities to become their most authentic and joyful selves. She supports families in making important transitions such as starting school, potty training, the arrival of new siblings and managing change and loss. In support of her work at NCRC, Judith is part of a research team working out of the Harvard School of Education, Frontiers of Innovation Program, evaluating relationship-based interventions for educators working with young children.
The School Counselor spends time observing the students in every classroom. She works collaboratively with her teammates and the faculty to build and execute interventions and adaptations to meet the needs of all students. As a bridge between a family and teachers, the school counselor facilitates understanding of a child’s development within the context of the home and school environments.
Julie has been working exclusively in pediatrics as an occupational therapist since 1999 in school, hospital and outpatient clinic settings. Julie works directly with students to improve fine and gross motor skills, visual perceptual development, self-help skills, social play skills and sensory regulation. Julie also enjoys helping students maximize their abilities to access the school curriculum by creating supports and adaptations for staff and families to implement.
The occupational therapist (OT) observes students in class in order to collaborate with teaching teams in making activity and environmental modifications that serve to maximize student participation. The OT also has regularly scheduled weekly in-class groups to directly work with students on developing age-expected fine and gross motor skills, visual perceptual skills, self-help skills, social play skills and sensory regulation.
Lauren has been a practicing speech-language pathologist in public school, independent school, pediatric outpatient and private practice settings since 2006. She believes in meeting children where they are and building upon existing strengths and interests in order to achieve communicative success. Lauren is skilled at evaluating and treating children with a broad range of communicative profiles, including developmental language disorders, speech sound disorders, and social cognitive communication deficits. Also a reading specialist, Lauren advocates for preschoolers’ emergent literacy development through play-based learning and exposure to literacy-rich environments in order to help cultivate the foundational vocabulary, listening, word play skills needed for later reading success.
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) schedules weekly classroom visits to support speech and language development for all children across early learning, preschool and prekindergarten programs. This language enhancement program incorporates vocabulary and concept building, language expansion strategies, enhancing play, early narrative structure, phonological awareness, and discourse skills to help guide children toward communicative competence.
SUPPLEMENTAL SUPPORT PROGRAMS
NCRC’s Early Beginnings Program is an interdisciplinary play-based intervention program serving up to six children enrolled in an AM Early Learning classroom. It offers specialized instruction to children who have been identified as needing additional supports and adaptations as well as family and caregiver support.
About the program:
- Children participate in an interdisciplinary play-based group each Wednesday morning (8:20-10:00) from early October to early May.
- Directing teachers and the CDT work together to engage the children in small group instruction targeting all developmental domains—social-emotional, communication, self-help, fine/gross motor, and cognitive skills.
- Weekly parent participation is required for a family circle activity (8:20-8:45) and a parent education/support group (8:45 -9:45).
- Family Circle
- During family circle, the children and their parents sing welcome songs to greet and get to know their peers before engaging in a developmentally appropriate activity that reflects a current Early Learning classroom theme. Teachers and the CDT supplement oral language with visuals, gestures and some sign language to ensure understanding of the activity and model alternate modes of expression. Family circle provides a wonderful opportunity for parents to learn play strategies, language expansion strategies and task scaffolding that promote meaningful interactions with young children.
- Parent Education/Support Group
- Following family circle, the parents meet with the School Counselor to discuss child development, parenting strategies and resources in the community.
- Home Visits
In order to promote generalization of current curriculum targets in the home environment, Early Beginnings families are scheduled for home visits in approximately six week intervals. For each home visit, a representative from CDT teams up with one of the Early Learning teachers to engage both parent and child in games and activities that follow the classroom themes, enrich speech and language skills, and reinforce sensory motor skills and social play.
Although home visits are not considered therapy sessions, they do offer parents an opportunity for extra support in promoting their child’s development. Families are encouraged to share not only their triumphs, but also their challenges so that home visits can be tailored to meet immediate needs.
Once a child transitions from the Early Beginnings Program into NCRC’s preschool tier they will typically be invited to attend the weekly Play Pals program.
The Play Pals program is a weekly, multi-sensory/enrichment group designed and implemented by the Child Development Team. It is supported by a generous endowment and is free for all participants throughout their years at NCRC.
The group is multi-aged with a maximum of six children who benefit from additional support with social interactions, motor skills, speech and language development, or self-regulation. Some of the children attending the group have a an ILP (Individual Learning Plan) or Action Plan. There are targeted goals for each unit that are adapted for each child’s individual needs. CDT sends group photos and a summary of skills addressed regularly. They are intended to be used at home to facilitated discussion between parents and children about the day’s events and skill carryover to home.
- Speech & Language Screenings
- Occupational Therapy Screenings
- Schoolwide Developmental Screenings
- Annual Hearing Screenings
- Annual Vision Screenings
Speech and language development happens on a continuum with children reaching communicative milestones at varying paces. NCRC’s speech-language pathologist employs speech and language screening procedures to promote early identification of children at risk for speech sound disorders, developmental language disorders. Screening referrals can be made by the CDT, a child’s teaching team or directly by the family.
Young children learn to process sensory information from the environment and within their bodies at different rates. Sometimes a child’s behavior or motor performance may interfere with his or her ability to participate in all aspects of the school day in an expected way. An occupational therapy screening helps to assess the underlying sensory processing and motor skills that may be contributing to any observed difficulties. NCRC’s occupational therapist employs sensory and motor screenings to promote early identification of children at risk for developmental delay. Screening referrals can be made by the CDT, teaching teams or directly by the family.
Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, the CDT will conduct schoolwide developmental screenings using the Brigance Screens III. This screening procedure provides a snapshot of children’s skills across several developmental domains, including language development, cognitive development, physical developmental (fine and gross motor), self-help skills, and social-emotional development. The Screens III will provide the CDT and teaching teams with a baseline of each child’s skills to ensure that the curriculum is tailored to individual needs.
In collaboration with the Gallaudet University Speech and Hearing Clinic, NCRC offers annual hearing screenings to all students. The goal of screening for hearing loss in preschoolers is to identify children most likely to have hearing loss that may interfere with communication, development, health, or future school performance. In addition, because hearing loss in this age range is so often associated with middle ear disease, it is also recommended that children be screened for outer and middle ear problems, such as fluid or excessive wax. Additional information about the process is shared with families in the weeks leading up to the scheduled screenings, which usually take place in February.
In collaboration with the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington, NCRC offers annual vision screenings to all students. Screening during the preschool years promotes early detection and treatment of vision issues that, gone undetected, could interfere with development or future school performance. Additional information about the process is shared with families in the weeks leading up to the scheduled screenings, which usually take place in February.
FAMILY SUPPORT & EDUCATION
- Downtown Brown Bag Lunches
- Evening Parent Discussions
- Fathers, Grandfathers, & Fatherly Figures Breakfast
- Mothers, Grandmothers, & Motherly Figures Breakfast
- Mom Cocktail Meet-ups
- Dad Wine Bar Meet-ups
Monthly brown bag lunch meetings held in downtown DC and facilitated by the CDT to discuss child developmental milestones as well as issues relevant to family life. Topics have included; the birth of a new sibling, supporting bilingualism at home, traveling with young children, children and media, death of a family member, where do babies come from, the development of a healthy pencil grip and the evolution of writing skills etc.
TEACHING TEAM SUPPORT
The CDT meets with each teaching team twice monthly, working together to monitor students’ developmental progress across all five domains of child development as the school year progresses. The CDT supports the faculty in utilizing developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive interventions so that every child flourishes within our community.