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.
Beginning the week of September 21st, a weekly theme will be selected to reflect either a seasonal trend or a school-wide initiative (ex. recycling).
Three short videos featuring a story, a song selection and a sign will be made available to all students across all three learning tiers. While integrating stories, songs and sign language into daily activities is beneficial for all young learners, this practice can truly be a difference maker for children with speech and language needs.
In addition to the video series mentioned above, a weekly, theme-related, language activity will be designed for each learning tier. Language targets will primarily be based on the End of Year (EOY) Language Development & Communication goals set for each learning tier.
Beginning the week of October 5th, an additional weekly pre-literacy module will be made available to Pre-Kindergarten students. Students will spend the first several weeks exploring word awareness and phonological awareness skills, such as rhyming, clapping syllables, and listening for the initial sound in words. By the beginning November, students will be ready for the prekindergarten adaptation of Lively Letters, a research-based and clinically proven multisensory reading program. The program turns plain, abstract letters into lively characters, each with its own unique story. For Explorers and Treetoppers, one or two letters will be introduced each week with emphasis placed on the sound that each letter shows. The goal will be exposure to print and early sound-letter correspondence skills. It is not expected that students decode, or sound out, words in Pre-Kindergarten.
Students will access the speech and language enrichment activities via their Seesaw classrooms. All speech and language modules are designed to be self-paced so families can participate in as much (or as little) as they choose.
Beginning the week of September 14th, each student’s Seesaw account will receive a new weekly occupational therapy enrichment activity from “Ms. Julie,” NCRC’s OT. These activities are designed to be self-paced so families can participate in as much (or as little) as they choose. Activities will include strategies for families in addition to an engaging developmental task for students. These activities may also include a theme to reflect either a seasonal trend or a school-wide initiative (ex. Engine Week).
Content of the occupational therapy activities will address the following skill sets to ensure students have the foundational skills needed to participate in daily activities in an expected way. Activities will address:
Core strength and stability to support a solid postural base for gross and fine motor tasks
Age-expected independence with self-help skills such as dressing, opening containers and using utensils
Self-regulation skill development including the ability to:
recognize arousal states as they relate to attention, learning, and behavior
identify self-regulation tools appropriate across tasks and settings
develop a framework and vocabulary to help identify and regulate arousal for both home and school
More information about NCRC’s self-regulation curriculum can be found here
Upper extremity strength, bilateral coordination and developmental hand skills to improve independence with manipulatives and school tools (ex. markers, scissors)
Visual perceptual and visual motor skills for design copy tasks in three-dimensional space (with a variety of constructional play materials) and two-dimensional space (paper-based tasks)
For Pre-K, prewriting skills will also be addressed utilizing aspects of the Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum by providing multisensory activities to solidify automaticity and proper letter formation to allow students to focus on the content of their work, not the mechanics
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.
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 and a parent education/support group.
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.
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 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.
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.
Twice yearly evening dinner and discussion events with invited guest speakers for parents on topics identified by the community as timely. Previous events have focussed on healthy child sexual development, child safety and first aid, effective communication with child care providers, etc.
Using the Brigance Inventory of Early Development—III as a guide, the CDT works collaboratively with teaching teams to determine when an Action Plan or Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is needed to create a bridge between a child’s current developmental level and end of year goals.
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.