Pershing Early Learning Center offers an Early Childhood  Special Education Program for children ages 3-5 who have special needs.  The family must live within Macon-Piatt County.  Staff reviews all records and meets with parents to determine what components of the case study need to be conducted.  The child attends an Arena Based Assessment session for the morning or afternoon while staff observe the child and collect more information.  The speech pathologist may conduct formal testing at a later date.  An EDC-IEP meeting is held next to determine eligibility, placement, special services needed and to write IEP goals.  An Annual Review is conducted once a year to review progress, goals and determine next year’s placement.  In addition, Parent-Teacher conferences are held one to two times a year.  All children are eligible for special bus transportation as warranted by  their IEP.
    Children must exhibit a speech and language delay of more than one year to qualify for the program.  Classrooms have mixed-age groups of 3-5 year olds with varying disabilities.  Each class has 10-15 students with one teacher and one assistant.  All children receive speech and language services.  Other services a child may receive include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work, Hearing Itinerant and Vision Itinerant. 
    Lessons are aligned with the Illinois Early Learning Standards and IEP goals.  Curriculum is based on vocabulary building and language development.  Teachers and speech pathologists work together on a vocabulary unit for a month at a time.  In addition, they focus on  language concepts and nursery rhymes each month.  A strong emphasis is placed on literature.  Teachers provide numerous daily opportunities to help the children grow in all areas of development: speech/language, fine motor, gross motor, social, cognitive and self-help skills.
    All staff who work with the children use the PECS system, sign language, visual cues, and hand-over-hand assistance when conducting lessons in order to accommodate for the child’s varying communication difficulties. Classrooms are highly structured, routine-oriented and provide a lot of “hands-on” learning opportunities.

    Every Early Childhood classroom is paired with a Pre-K class P.E., field trips, and assemblies.  In addition, children are included in the Pre-K class for other activities when the child is ready.  Parents are encouraged to attend the class and individual meetings as well as Family Fun Night activities.