By Linda White
As you make your way from the side parking area of the Bedford Public Library adjacent to the music wing of Bedford High School (BHS), have you ever caught a glimpse of playground equipment that appears to be perfectly sized and more appropriate for much younger children than the teenagers of BHS? As you get closer, you may also hear the voices of preschool children happily engaged in a variety of play and learning activities. You have just found the Bedford Public Schools Integrated Preschool Program.
An Open House is scheduled on Wednesday, May 25 from 6-7:30pm for prospective families to tour the preschool, meet the staff and learn about the curriculum.A limited number of openings are available for fall 2016. The preschool is located at BHS and follows the Bedford Public School academic calendar. There are two five-morning classes and one three-morning class. The five-morning class meets Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 11:30 am, and the three-morning class meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Classroom daily schedules typically include: Free choice & directed free play, Circle/Meeting time, Snack Group, Work Table Activity time, Gross Motor/Outside Play and Ending Circle/Story. For more details about the Open House, click here to print or view a scalable PDF of the Open House flyer.
Early Childhood Director Tanya Kalantari explained, “The Integrated Preschool is a rich learning environment for students with and without special needs and dedicated to ensuring all children learn and develop in a caring, supportive, fun-filled environment. We are staffed by a professional, highly qualified 15 memberteam that includesspecial education teachers, educational assistants, occupational therapist, certified occupational therapist, speech/language therapist,physical therapists and a board certified behavior analyst. The integrated preschool differs from other preschools in that our teachers are required to be certified through the Massachusetts Department of Education.”
“Three spacious, well-appointed and light filled classrooms each accommodate 15 students. Each classroom is a careful balance of three to five years olds and comprise a mix of some children who require special education programming and some typically developing neighborhood children who ensure strong and appropriate peer modeling.”
Students with and without special needs benefit from this philosophy, as the classes provide rich, language-based curriculum with a multi-sensory, developmental approach to teaching. There is strong commitment to helping all children develop self-respect, positive peer relationships, self-control and friendships based on mutual respect. The mothers of two current students, Dustin and Oksana, described a special relationship their two children shared. “Dustin has blossomed as a result of their relationship, and Oksana has relished her role as a peer mentor and unofficial big sister. Both of our children have learned and grown so much during their time here. Oksana is heading to kindergarten at Davis in the fall. We know they will greatly miss one another. We also know the staff will work on a transition plan for both of them.”
The curriculum encompasses a “total development” model to ensure that children develop their cognitive, gross motor, social, emotional and language skills. The recent annual Mother’s Day Tea celebration included a song by the students for their guests of honor. It was a vocal performance accompanied by sign language. Director Kalantari grew up in Bedford, graduated from Bedford High School and earned her M.A. in Special Education. She further explained, “Sign language is an example of how all the children are exposed to a full array of language modalities. We have several family events throughout the year including a ‘Stone Soup’ celebration for Thanksgiving and an end of the year performance. Our program also includes several community trips including a trip to Davis Farmland, Children’s Discovery Museum and the Stone Zoo.”
Debbie Scipioni, a teaching assistant at the preschool since 2012 commented, “Where do I start to tell you why I teach here? I love our director, my peer group and our kids. Each of our students is a little treasure to us!”
Please contact Tanya Kalantari for additional information (781) 275-1700 x3248 or visit the Bedford Integrated Preschool web site at www.bedford.k12.ma.us/home/integrated-pre-school.html .