Whispering Pines Toddler Groups
Programs in Delanson and Amsterdam
518-875-6724 or 518-843-3003
Whispering Pines Preschool is a private early childhood and early intervention program which provides educational and therapy services to babies, toddlers and young children with special needs as well as an early learning experience for typically developing children. There are no direct costs to the parent for the services provided to children with special needs who are referred for services by the Early Intervention Program in their county of residence. These services are funded through state funds. Parents of typically developing children are responsible for a program fee for their children.
The Mission of Whispering Pines Preschool is to offer all children the opportunity to develop to their optimum potential in an environment that encourages social emotion and developmental growth and opportunities for peer interactions utilizing a play and language-based curriculum that promotes curiosity, problem solving and overall functional skills.
Toddler Playgroup at Whispering Pines Preschool
To fulfill our mission the toddler team members will:
- Assure that a cohesive and enlightened team of professionals (OT, PT, SLP, special instruction) is available to deliver a comprehensive program.
- Engage the child in appropriate therapeutic experiences and play interactions.
- Assist parents in gaining a greater understanding of their child’s unique strengths and needs.
- Provide a challenging and engaging environment so that special needs toddlers have the opportunity to interact consistently with a peer group of typically developing children.
Programs in Delanson and Amsterdam
518-875-6724 or 518-843-3003
The Toddler Playgroup…..
- Provides an environment that encourages peer to peer socialization.
- Utilizes a play and language based curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for each child.
- Has staff that facilitate the learning skills that foster successful routines, transitions and interactions with peers.
- Provides comprehensive support services as an integral part of the learning process.
- Encourages direct parent involvement as an integral part of the learning process.
- Provides an environment that is responsive to the diversities of the children and presents material in a non-biased manner.
- Provides an environment that nurtures each child’s level of self-esteem, independence, and respect of others.
Toddler Playgroup Structure
The playgroup runs 5 days a week for two hours with a maximum of five special needs children and five peers per group session.
The child-staff ratio is 2:1. The program hours are broken down into the following parts: Guided Play, Circle Time, Snack Time and Oral Motor, Activity Time, Closing Play.
A Typical day in Toddlers…..
Guided Play: The purpose of the first 40 minutes of the playgroup session is to provide the child with an environment with different toys, objects, and activities to choose from and to allow the children.some time to transition from departing with his/her parents.
Daily sensory activities provided during this time allow the children an opportunity to participate in purposeful sensorimotor play and encourages appropriate interactions with other children and staff.
Activities included are a formal brushing program, obstacle course activities, gross motor play, i.e., air mattress, ball activities, social and imitation games, and use of equipment such as swings, therapy balls, bolsters and barrels.
This portion of the session is less structured and the child is encouraged by staff to initiate play and interactions and to try out new things. The therapists and teacher facilitate and model purposeful interactions and use of toys .
Circle Time: This group time sets the context for the remainder of the day. Children greet friends and staff, learn to focus and attend, take turns and transition from one activity to another. Simple songs and rhythms are introduced and opportunities for expression are rich.
Snack Time: Snack time provides an opportunity for children to experience different types and consistencies of food in a safe environment with the goal of broadening the child’s experiences and repertoire of food. Many children have a limited repertoire of foods that they will eat.
Often, they are sensory defensive and may demonstrate an aversive reaction to certain textures, smells, and colors of food. An oral motor preparation program is provided each day prior to snack to enhance sensory awareness and processing.
Activity Time: This portion of the playgroup is more structured. The children are given the opportunity to engage in a choice of 3-4 fine motor, multisensory table top activities. Being still and attending to activities that are structured can be very difficult for many young children. Children learn to take turns with materials and toys and to attend to a task in a purposeful manner with the help of the staff members and utilization of strategies such as guided physical assistance, giving verbal warning that it is time to share a toy with another child, or applying firm touch to a child’s hand to bring him/her back to task.
Closing Play: The last phase of the playgroup involves the staff, children and parents engaging in songs, hand plays or a book activity. The goal is to promote playful social interactions, increase eye contact, and increase gesturing during songs and in imitation
Children are introduced to a range of picture and story books, many which are available to families through our lending library.
Routines and Transitions:
The routine for each day is generally the same giving the children a predictable structure. Each transition from one activity to another includes a special song which alerts the child that it is time to make a transition, i.e., when transitioning from free play to table time we sing,” Clean up, clean up everybody, everywhere…” and each child is responsible, with the help of staff, to put back one toy that he/she was playing with and proceeds to sitting at the table. The use of specific songs for specific parts of the playgroup provides a type of structure to the playgroup that is predictable for the child.
This also makes it easier to impose behavioral expectations on the child, i.e., cleaning up toys, washing hands before snack time, sitting at the table for snack.
The songs become familiar prompts to the child that it is time to transition. The use of songs during all phases of the playgroup is encouraged. Children learn gesturing, language, body parts and socialization through song play.
Children become easily accustomed to the transitions and routine of the program through the use of song play.
Toddler Playgroup Parent Involvement
Our toddler program is a family centered program, which aims to foster a constructive relationship between parent and child. Throughout the session but particularly during focused play and closing, the last phase of the two hour program, parents are invited to participate and play with their children. This offers the parents a time to engage in positive, quality child-parent interactions, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday living. On request, sessions can be videotaped so that parents unable to participate directly are able to watch the video with their child and learn songs, signs and words the child is using in play group.
Regular meetings and communications with parents allow them to join in the actual planning of their child’s group intervention. Also meetings with any member of the child’s team can be made on an as needed basis by either parent or team member. Every 6 months a questionnaire is given to parents to fill out regarding their feedback on the playgroup setup, outcomes seen in their child and any suggestions they have for change in the program.
Feedback from parents on an informal basis is always welcome.