Growth and Development:
When to Seek a Developmental Evaluation
Every child will need some form of academic support at one point in their life or another. Often times, you see children who excel in one subject or area of development but fall behind in another. I have observed Gifted and Talented and general education classroom where the shining star in mathematics falls below grade level in reading or the child passionate about art and science struggles to establish positive relationships with their peers.
The same can be said in early education. As the speed of growth and development is rapid and the range of development is vast, it is often difficult to identify the areas that a young child may need support that is beyond the standard classroom experience. While our philosophy gives us the flexibility to tailor learning to each child’s interests and prior knowledge, there are children who may feel lost, overwhelmed and uncomfortable navigating through the demands of a classroom setting. They may lack the skills to initiate play, be overstimulated by the noise level, have a difficult time navigating classroom transition or choosing self-initiated activities or simply do not have the core strength and stamina to fully participate with the group. Sometimes these things manifest themselves into challenging behaviors that function to help the child escape or avoid unwanted stimuli. Other times, the child becomes withdrawn to separate themselves from the activities that are outside of their control or comfort level.
At BKSB, we believe that each child should get the support they need to reach their full potential and get the most out of their school experience. While all children work to fine-tune the skills mentioned above when they begin school, there are those who need extra guidance to be successful. Sometimes families come to us with an individual Development Plan (IDP) already in place and a support system that can help the child navigate their school experience, other times, a teacher or administrator may identify key skills that are challenging for the child and recommend that additional support, outside of the school, will be helpful. We view outside therapeutic services as an extension of the support we provide as a school and we welcome service providers to assist us in the children’s growth and development.
Here are the types of providers that you may see around the school:
Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapist work on fine motor grip and manipulation, hand-eye coordination and overall life skills.
Physical Therapists: Physical therapists work on gross motor skills to restore, maintain, and promote optimal physical function and health.
Speech Therapist: Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication and cognitive-communication challenges in children and adults.
SEITS: A SEIT or a Special Education Itinerant Teacher works one-on-one with students in the classroom to support them through daily routines.
While these providers generally work one-on-one with the child that they are assigned, know that all of the children at the center will have some interactions with them in the classroom. As part of a child’s individual goals, a therapist may invite a peer to participate in turn-taking games, share conversational language, or facilitate play. These experiences help both children build relationships and target a range of developmental milestones.
The therapist usually comes from agencies that service EI (Early Intervention) or CPSE (Committees on Special Education). Services through these agencies are free, however, some families do opt to hire providers privately to expedite the process or extend the support that their child receives through the state. In either case, BKSB also requests notification of their Department of Health clearances for our records.
While teachers will reach out to you with any observations pertinent to your child’s development, please also speak to them about any concerns that you may have as you are your child’s first teacher. In many cases, seeking additional support does not necessarily qualify the child for services but helps us pinpoint the skills that can help the child thrive at home and at school. If they do qualify, every child can benefit from additional one-on-one support!
You can visit the links below for additional information on EI and CPSE. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.
For EI services (ages birth-3)
NYC Health – Early Interventions
For CPSE services (ages 3-5)
Advocates for Children – Referring Children for Preschool Special Education Services