The Early Learning Center is a collaboration that launched last fall between the Battle Ground school district and Educational Opportunities for Children & Families, or EOCF, a provider of comprehensive early childhood education and family support programs in Southwest Washington.
The Early Learning Center offers a “blended” environment where students in the federal Head Start program learn alongside students with disabilities who qualify for special education services. In this preschool, students who have varying degrees of learning and cognitive abilities are taught together.
“Students with disabilities show a higher rate of development in a program with high expectations and strong peer models,” said Ellen Wiessner, Battle Ground's director of special services. "Taking every student’s needs into consideration, a blended program is simply the best model for the kids.”
Research confirms that the first five years of a child’s life are particularly important for the development of the child's brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child's neural pathways, or the “architecture” of the brain.
“The EOCF is as committed to providing quality programming as we are, and they’ve been a wonderful organization to collaborate with,” said Wiessner. “A quality preschool program will have a lasting impact on these kids throughout their lives.”
Class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios are emphasized at the Early Learning Center, where teachers and administrators strive to create a developmentally appropriate environment that emphasizes the learning and growth of the whole child.
“Our daily schedule emphasizes peer interaction and supports active student engagement and exploration,” said Leslie Meinschein, an early childhood special education teacher for Battle Ground Public Schools. “By focusing on the development of cognitive, social-emotional, and language skills, the Early Learning Center provides an opportunity for students to build routines and make connections between their home and school environment prior to transitioning to kindergarten.”
For more information about preschool and daycare options in Battle Ground Public Schools, please visit http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/preschool-and-daycare.