For students at this preschool, the first day of school was exciting–and familiar.
Teachers at Lighthouse Early Learning Center (ELC) had sent out video walkthroughs of the classrooms before school started to help the students feel comfortable and safe in a new space.
This is especially helpful for children with a developmental delay, for whom transitions can be especially difficult.
This is just one way in which ELC, Crown Heights’ only preschool exclusively for children with special needs, tailors their curriculum to their unique student body.
“I remember when I first started looking for a preschool where I could send my son with autism,” one parent recalls. “There were no options–unless I wanted to send him on a bus to another neighborhood, to a school that wasn’t Chabad.”
This week, the same parent is bringing her son to his second year at the local preschool. She drops him off in the care of his loving Morah, and watches as he runs off to join her in making apple masks for Rosh Hashana.
“He developed so much over the last year,” she shares, “and more importantly, he loved it. He loves school, he loves his morah… I no longer have to fight with him to go to school every day.”
Other parents seem to agree; enrollment at ELC has more than doubled this year, including both new and returning students. There’s been a corresponding growth in the number of staff, which include OTs, PTs, speech therapists, behavior technicians, and more. Every member of the team is trained to work with children with special needs and is supervised by licensed behavior analysts.
“This has been a need in the community for a long time,” co-director Pessy Raitman reflects. “We’re honored to provide families and children with special needs with a welcoming space where they can thrive.”