Preschool through Kindergarten NE/LRE Team Decision Making Module  

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“Various levels of active parental participation in all schools must be encouraged because it is in the children’s best interest. That participation helps to create the optimal environment for the development of a child’s learning possibilities.” Levett, 2006 , p.6

Connect Families to Program Staff, Activities and Other Families

Offer options for families to connect with other implementation team partners during a child’s initial transition and ongoing participation in an early childhood setting. The entire team is responsible for ensuring that each child with a disability learns and interacts with adults and peers, with appropriate supports, modifications and adaptations, as needed.

Connecting Families with Early Care and Education Partners


Strategy Example
  • Ask parents if a child already knows someone attending the program/activity to buddy with, or have a play-date after school.
  • When Sam was registered for a recreation activity at a county nature center, the program coordinator suggested that his older sister accompany him as a volunteer “helper” for the first day. Sam’s mother also stayed nearby and read, ready to assist if needed.
  • Talk with families about how to help a child adjust to, and participate in, a specific program/activity.
  •   “….use some of the same finger plays, group games and story books that are familiar to a child. If a child loves animals but can only say “dog”, then read The Big Red Dog on a child’s first day, rather than Millions of Cats or Curious George. If you learn that a child responds better when she isn't looking directly at the person talking, then sit behind her while she is playing, rather than directly across from her. ” Donegan et al, 1994, p.11
  • Encourage parents to send a small familiar object with a child to help him/her feel comfortable in a specific environment. The object should fit easily in a child's back pack or personal cubby e.g., a small toy, stuffed animal, or favorite photograph in a clear zip lock bag or plastic sleeve.
  • During the first week of her preschool class, or whenever a new child joined her class, Mrs. Bolton held a “special friends” visiting day. Each child was invited to bring a favorite stuffed animal, doll or character to see what school was all about. The visitors were introduced, and attended circle, snack and lunch with their “special kids.” 
  • Develop flexible routines to help each child orient to the physical/social environment and program activities. 
  • Janice was so relieved that her daughter’s preschool agreed to let her come 15 minutes early to settle in an activity before Janice left for work. She knew that if Maura could make it through the first part of the day calmly, she was much more likely to be interested in joining activities with the other children. 
  • Explore how possible changes in attendance/schedules could support a child’s participation in a new setting.
  • Mybinh asked her childcare provider if her daughter, Tai, could attend for shortened days the first month, arriving at 8:00 AM with the other children but leaving at 12:00 PM with her mother. Tai was still recovering from heart surgery, and needed a long nap in the afternoon.
  • Schedule “Stay-and-visit” mornings.
  • At the beginning of each school year at the Community Preschool Kindergarten, parents identify how they would like to volunteer at a “stay-and-visit” morning. Parents sign up beforehand for morning centers and circle activities. The sign-up sheet also includes a section titled “You didn’t ask, but I’d like to….”
  • “We’ve had some wonderful offers of help we would never have thought to ask about. It gives an opportunity for parents (and grandparents) to share their talents and passions with us.” Barbara Lynn, Jacksonville, Florida, posted on
  • Solicit volunteers to participate. 
  • One preschool kept a bulletin board outside each class to post notes about upcoming activities and events that parent volunteers were needed for e.g., monthly birthday parties, community trips, reading hour and caring for classroom animals over vacations. 
  • Develop “Who we are” staff booklets to orient families and visitors. 
  • Teachers and administrators at “ABC Preschool” made a “Who’s here” photo booklet to orient new families to their program. Each staff member wrote a note to families to accompany their picture, describing their teaching experiences in the preschool, their own family, and what they liked to do for recreation.