The comprehensive educational/therapeutic curriculum at Stepping Stones utilizes best practice strategies/techniques/approaches to implement a program individualized for each child to successfully achieve their educational and developmental goals. A specialized multi-sensory disciplinary team approach to teaching children is incorporated into all aspects of the learning environment. Classrooms are designed to offer students an intimate setting where components of the curriculum and specialized instruction can be implemented to maximize each child’s capacity for learning. Through our expertly trained staff and interdisciplinary team approach, each child who attends Stepping Stones School benefits from our specialized curriculum.
- Teaching Math to Children with Down Syndrome© is the foundation of the Stepping Stones math program. Children with Down syndrome or other cognitive disabilities need math for the real world–counting with meaning, adding the scores in a game, and tracking time in order to keep to a schedule. Teaching Math to Children with Down Syndrome© provides strategies and activities that are relevant to daily living, are concrete and practical, offer hands-on practice, and provide opportunity for successful completion. Some topics include: pre-number concepts; counting; recognition and writing of numbers; time and measurement; addition and subtraction; and money.
- Special Reads for Special Needs® reading curriculum is the basis for the Stepping Stones reading program. Created by Natalie Hale, a professional educator who herself has a son with Down syndrome and was frustrated with his reading struggles. The Special Reads for Special Needs Curriculum utilizes evidence-based established methodologies to teach reading to children with Down syndrome and other developmental delays. The program is founded on 3 essential M&Ms: Motivation, Materials, and Methods. Motivation comes first ensuring that our children are interested in what they are reading and connected to the process. Materials come second and require that the reading materials are visually engaging and are relevant to each individual child. Third come evidence –based methods that offer curriculum materials that are stimulating and include developmentally appropriate content.
- Handwriting without Tears® curriculum draws from years of innovation and research to provide developmentally appropriate, multisensory tools and strategies for the classroom. Our teachers and therapists work with students to learn the habits and skills essential for writing through the use of manipulatives and music. Letters are taught in developmental order allowing students to master skills and boost confidence.
- Individualized Cognitive Development is provided through understanding each child’s unique learning styles and needs. The collaborative multi-disciplinary team at Stepping Stones individualizes a learning program for each student in order to maximize attainment of their cognitive developmental goals. Each child’s cognitive program is implemented through several methods including: 1:1 instruction; individualized strategies; physical cueing and prompting; visual and verbal cueing; small group instruction; large group instruction; multi-sensory approach; and modeling and imitation.
- Therapeutic Program The specialized team of therapists (physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists) at Stepping Stones has developed a comprehensive therapy program for children who have Down syndrome. The Stepping Stones School Therapeutic Program specializes in addressing the skills needed to reach essential developmental milestones impacted by low tone. Students at Stepping Stones benefit from an all-day therapeutic experience that includes individual, group, and integrated therapies that are incorporated into each student’s day, facilitating the strength and growth needed to reach all critical developmental areas. The specialized therapeutic programs offered at our school are like no other school program. Learn more
As with the curriculum, therapies, and specialized intervention methods described above, one of the hallmark features of the School’s comprehensive instructional approach is the use of a variety of specialized approaches/programs to help each child accomplish their educational/therapeutic goals. Some of these components are as follows:
- One to one instruction
- Small group instruction (2-3 students)
- Large group instruction (full class – max 12)
- Physical cueing as needed
- Visual and verbal cueing as needed
- Multi-sensory approach
- Modeling and imitation
- Reputation of learning concepts
- Sign language
The Alert Program for Self-Regulation®:
An innovative program that teaches children how to self-regulate and function optimally at school and home. Through the Alert Program, children learn what to do if their engines are running on high and when they need to sit down and focus. Teachers provide the students with activities during down time between lessons to “wake up their engines and their minds” for better focus. Children learn that simple changes in daily routine, such as marching to music, or jumping on a trampoline, may be all that is needed to maximize functioning and keeping engines running “just right”. Our staff gives children “breaks” between activities, if needed, to help them focus on the next activity and remain alert.
DIR/Floortime Model (Stanley Greenspan):
The Developmental Individual-difference Relationship-based Model (DIR) is based on the premise that help children with developmental delays reach their potential by meeting them at their developmental level and building on their strengths. This Floortime model encourages teachers and therapists to engage children literally at their level by getting on the floor to play using activities the child enjoys. As children mature, teachers and therapists modify the strategies to match the child’s developing interest and higher levels of interaction. Floortime aims to help children reach developmental milestones including self-regulation, social skills, communication, and problem solving. (paraphrased from Autism Speaks website)
RethinkEd© is a web-based ABA program utilized by Stepping Stones to provide a comprehensive and individualized program to students who may benefit from these learning styles. RethinkEd combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable and evidence-based instructional materials and supports for our students. The comprehensive suite of tools ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral and social/emotional skills they need to succeed in school, at work and in life.
USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Through the use of the most up to date technologies students are afforded with the tools needed to help maximize achievement of educational, cognitive, and developmental goals. Students who attend the program have the following technology available for daily use:
- Laptop Computers
- Touch Screen Computers
- IPad (one for each child)
- SMART Board (each classroom)
- SMART table