Welcome Middleborough Families!
We are excited to have you consider our preschool program at the Memorial Early Childhood Center (MECC). Below, please find some answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this information is helpful as you learn more about our program. If you still need additional information about our program, we will happily assist you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Middleborough’s Integrated Preschool Program
1) What do you mean by an “integrated preschool” program?
Our program is integrated, meaning children with disabilities and children without disabilities are learning together in each preschool classroom. We developed our program to provide young children with disabilities who are between ages 3 and 5 with the appropriate special education programming to make progress toward their individual goals. These children are identified through the initial evaluation process related to the district’s child find activities.
Typically developing children who are age 4 by September 1st are also enrolled in the preschool program via the lottery process to ensure strong and appropriate peer modeling. The Middleborough Public Schools values inclusion as the best way of instructing most children with disabilities. Students with and without disabilities benefit from this philosophy, as the integrated classes provide a rich, language-based curriculum with a multi-sensory, developmental approach to teaching. We have a strong commitment to helping all children develop positive peer relationships, increased independence, resiliency, self-awareness, and friendships based on mutual understanding.
2) Why is there a lottery for the preschool program?
Children without disabilities are selected to be peer role model students through a lottery process. We use this lottery process to ensure fair and equitable access to the program for all age-eligible children in the community. Typically, interest in the program far exceeds the number of spots that are available. By state regulation, each preschool classroom per session cannot enroll more than 8 children without disabilities. All applications received during the open lottery period, usually held from early January to mid-February, are included in the lottery drawing. Applications received after the lottery drawing in mid-February are added to the waiting list.
3) Is there a fee to attend preschool?
Yes, there is a fee for the children who are enrolled as role model students. The fee is $10 per session, with either 4 or 5 sessions per week. Fees are paid by bank check or money order made payable to the Town of Middleborough. We do not accept cash or personal checks. The first payment is due in August to the Pupil Personnel Services Department at 112 Tiger Drive. The remaining payments can be made at the Memorial Early Childhood Center according to a schedule shared with families during the summer before school starts.
4) What are the days and times of the preschool sessions?
We offer both morning and afternoon sessions. Morning sessions are held Monday-Thursday from 8:45AM-11:15AM (2.5 hours). Afternoon sessions are held Monday-Thursday or Monday-Friday, depending on classroom, from 12:00PM-2:30PM (2.5 hours).
5) How do you determine which children attend the 4-day program versus the 5-day program?
We offer both 4-day and 5-day programs to meet the special education needs of young children with disabilities in our community. On Friday mornings, when there are no integrated class sessions, our early childhood teachers are busy completing evaluations, conducting observations at local daycare centers and private preschool programs, attending home visits, and offering consultation support to families and other providers. Role model students are placed in respective 4-day or 5-day classes based on multiple factors including family requests and work schedules. Families can share their preferences for a specific class spot, but there are no guarantees that the program will be able to accommodate all requests.
8) What is the class size? How many teachers are there?
Class size is determined by state regulations. Each of our classes include one dually-licensed special education/early childhood teacher, one educational support person (teacher assistant), 8 role model children, and up to 7 children with disabilities.
9) What is preschool screening?
The preschool screening is an essential step in becoming a peer model. It allows the teacher to gather information about your child before enrollment. Our early childhood staff utilize a variety of age-appropriate tools to conduct the screenings. These tools consist of games and questions about basic concepts that your child is asked. Children are not expected to “study” or prepare for the screening; rather, we are hoping to get a true picture of their personalities and skills.
10) What if my child needs to be rescreened?
Not all children will be comfortable being a role model in an integrated program such as ours. As a peer model, we expect your child to demonstrate the following:
- Age appropriate cognitive, motor, social, and speech/language skills;
- The ability to initiate and maintain positive interactions with other children;
- Participate and sustain attention in group activities;
- Follow adult directions
Sometimes, children are not ready to show us their true personalities the first time they come to screening. They may also not yet be comfortable working with an unfamiliar adult; after all, we teach them to not go with strangers! We understand how this can affect young children. For this reason, we schedule our initial round of screenings for early April, to leave time for re-screening a little later in the spring. If your child needs to be re-screened, our early childhood staff will let you know and make arrangements with you for the follow-up.
There are also times when our screening reveals some developmental questions that we would like to explore further through additional assessment. If that occurs, we will speak to you about the next steps in making a referral for evaluation.
11) What will be my child do during a typical preschool session?
Our preschool day has a mix of student-led, play-based, and teacher-directed lessons and activities. A typical session in preschool includes an arrival routine, a daily meeting, centers, bathroom and snack breaks, at least one whole group activity, and a dismissal routine. As weather permits, there is also outdoor time. Opportunities to move and utilize both fine and gross motor skills abound throughout each session. More information about each of these elements can be found in our description of a typical day.
12) What does my child need to bring to preschool?
Children should have a backpack, lunchbox, and folder. A change of clothes to be left in the child’s cubby is also encouraged. All items should be marked with the child’s name as many hats, gloves, sweatshirts, etc. look similar. We host an orientation the week before preschool starts, so specific family questions about what to pack for the session can be addressed then.
13) Does my child need to be toilet trained?
Yes, children without disabilities who participate in the program as role model students must be toilet trained. Adult support is available to children who may have an occasional accident or who need assistance with special outfits on celebration days.
14) Is transportation provided?
Transportation is not provided to role model students. Families choose to make personal arrangements that may include parent/guardian/caregiver drop off/pick up and/or carpooling with other families.
15) What if my child doesn’t want to leave me?
It is natural for children to be concerned about starting new experiences. Your child will separate from you more easily if you express consistency, reassurance, and a willingness to let them go, even if you are feeling a little sad. Once you leave, it is best not to wave at the window or to keep returning to say good-bye; this will just prolong the separation. The teacher will be there to support you and your child through this process.
16) Besides separation, what social and emotional challenges will my child meet in preschool and what’s the best way to handle them?
Being in a group can be an adjustment for many children. It requires children to be patient, flexible, responsible, and able to listen. These skills come more easily to some children than others. You can help your child by making sure they get enough rest and reassurance, while also reinforcing social skills at home. Your child’s teacher does not expect young children to handle all these new skills on their own at the start of the school year. These are skills that are developed during the entire preschool year.
17) What is the role of play in preschool?
Preschoolers learn and develop skills through play. Young children understand things when they use them or experience them directly. They learn how to solve problems, express themselves, and figure out how things work. Preschool programs are designed to encourage play. Our early childhood classrooms have a dramatic play area, an art area, a block area, a math area, and a literacy/writing area. The daily schedule allows children to explore and spend time working throughout each area. It is important for children to choose and direct their own play. Teachers design their classroom with engaging and new materials to hold the interest of these young explorers.