At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:
1. Explain current special education laws and their impact on early childhood practice.
2. Describe strategies that support the central role of families and their collaborative partnerships with team members and community professionals.
3. Demonstrate knowledge of reflective practice, cultural responsiveness, confidentiality, and professional practices when working with colleagues, children, and families.
4. Practice various formal and informal observation and assessment procedures used to guide identification and intervention decisions.
5. Identify curriculum, environment, and natural learning opportunities to meet individualized needs, outcomes, and goals of young children and families.
6. Design modifications and accommodations based on observation, evidence-based practices, and legal requirements to support children's development.
I. Policies and Procedures for Early Intervention and Special Education
A. Understanding state and local policies as they apply to the educational setting
B. Applying best practices from professional organizations
1. Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Early Childhood (DEC)
2. Other organizations
C. Prioritizing family needs and rights
II. Environments and Curriculum
A. Creating environments for a variety of developmental needs
1. Developmentally appropriate environments for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and early primary
2. Adaptations to accommodate children's physical needs and disabilities
3. Guidance, interactions, and challenging behaviors
B. Planning curriculum for young children
1. Developmentally appropriate curriculum for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and early primary
2. Adaptations for a variety of physical and intellectual special needs
C. Inclusion and mainstreaming
1. Compliance with laws and regulations for including children with special needs in early childhood programs
2. Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Early Childhood (DEC) recommended practices
3. Adaptations for children's full participation in early childhood curriculum, routines, and indoor and outdoor environments
4. Program policies and classroom practices to support inclusion
5. Waivers and exemptions for early childhood programs
D. Respecting family and cultural diversity in curriculum practices
III. Types of Early Childhood Programs and Services
A. Early childhood programs
B. Special Day Class
C. Recreation programs
D. Parent support programs
E. Other educational programs
F. Community resources
IV. Support Professionals and Organizations
A. Working collaboratively with special education professionals
1. Individual Education Plan (IEP) and Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP)
b. Composition and function of IEP and/or IFSP team
c. Collaborating with families
d. Adaptation and modification of the environment and curriculum to support goals and objectives.
2. Careers in the field
a. Paraprofessionals in preschools and public schools
b. Professional positions in education and support services
3. Collaboration between parents and professionals to support children with special needs
a. Building relationships with parents
b. Collaborating with specialists
c. Understanding adult learning styles
d. Resolving conflicts
e. Negotiating culture and values
B. Support services and organizations
1. School district early intervention services
2. Regional centers
3. Easter Seals
4. California Early Start
5. Accessing services for children
6. Jurisdiction and collaboration between service providers
7. Multidisciplinary teams
V. Observation and Documentation of Children's Learning
A. Observation strategies
B. Uses of observational data
1. Program planning
2. Early identification and screening
3. Documentation of children's learning
C. Tools for recording data
D. Other methods of data collection
E. The referral process
F. Implementing program plans
G. The importance of early identification and screening
H. Communicating data to inter-agency, multidisciplinary teams
The course will include some or all of the following assignments:
Reading and Discussion Assignments:
Reading and discussion of assigned text and handouts; approximately 30 pages per week
1. Written analysis of reading (study questions, article responses), 3-5 papers
2. Research paper on selected topics related to development of young children with special needs
Skill Demonstrations Assignments:
1. Practical projects, including adapting learning materials and environments to meet the needs of children with various disabilities
2. Observations and analysis (2-4) of a child with special needs or a program for children with special needs using observational research technique and developmental terminology
3. Present a design for an inclusive preschool program
4. IEP Practice: Written goals and objectives for children with special needs in an early childhood program
5. Group role play IEP/IFSP
6. Interview of parent of child with special needs and in-class presentation of findings
7. Portfolio of resources for young children with special needs
1. Quizzes (2-5)
1. Class participation and in-class (or online) activities
Strategies for Including Children with Special Needs in Early Education Settings. 2nd ed. Cook, Ruth and Richardson-Gibbs, Anne and Nielsen, Lauria. Wadsworth Publishing. 2017 (classic).
A Practical Guide to Early Childhood Inclusion: Effective Reflections. Gruenburg, Ann and Miller, Regina. Pearson. 2011 (classic).
Developmentally Appropriate Practices. Copple, Carol. NAEYC. 2010 (classic).
DEC Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education. Sandall, Susan. Council for Exceptional Children. 2005 (classic).
Young Exceptional Children Monograph No. 02: Natural Environments and Inclusion. Sandall, S. and Ostrosky, M. Sopris West. 2001 (classic).
Inclusion Works! Creating Child Care Programs That Promote Belonging for Children with Disabilities 2nd ed. California Department of Education Sacramento, 2021.