What to look for in a therapeutic preschool

Written by: Karen George

What to look for in a therapeutic preschool

As a parent, you want to ensure that your child receives every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. Preschool can play a significant role in achieving these goals. For children who may not fit into a standard preschool setting because of a disorder, diagnosis, or disability, a therapeutic preschool program can be life-changing.

If your child would benefit from a therapeutic preschool, it is critical that you do your research. In my own experience, I found the following factors incredibly important.

Your goals as a parent. A therapeutic preschool can provide support by meeting critical developmental milestones in areas such as speech and language, social skills, feeding, expanded gross and fine motor skills, and more. It is important that the program meets the unique goals you have in mind for your child.

Flexibility of the program. The more flexible a program is, the more it will meet your child’s needs. Does the program require you to make a year commitment or allow month-to-month? Does it offer both morning and afternoon sessions? Are you able to start at two days a week and increase if it is going well? Rigid rules and policies may not fit your child’s specific needs.

Well-educated and experienced staff. Top therapeutic programs tend to employ individuals with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This additional education will manifest itself in better outcomes for your child.

A multidisciplinary team. This means a team of professionals with expertise in speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, ABA therapy, and more. This diverse team allows children to receive the most well-rounded and comprehensive care and allows a program to treat the whole child.

Student-to-teacher ratio. A program with a low student-to-teacher ratio can provide more personalized care. A standard preschool program may have 8 to 10 children for just one teacher, while a good therapeutic program may have just 3 or 4 students per teacher.

Reviews and results. In my time as a speech-language pathologist, I have had a front-row seat in observing therapeutic services for children with a wide range of developmental delays. I have discovered that the gains children make vary greatly from program to program. The progress your child makes in a therapeutic program is a direct result of the effectiveness of the clinicians. Look for online reviews and references from satisfied parents so you know that your child is receiving the best care possible.

Open-door policy. The best therapeutic programs want parents involved in their child’s progress. An open-door policy that allows parents to drop in to observe their child’s day (such as through a two-way mirror) is the hallmark of a quality program.

The results of a therapeutic preschool program can be truly transformative for your child. Ask questions. Ask around. Look online for reviews. Doing your research will pay off, as you will find the right program to become your “partner” in helping your child reach their full potential.

Karen George, a speech-language pathologist, was featured in the Chicago Tribune, consulted by NPR, and named Alumni of the Year by Marquette University. In 2014, Karen founded CST Academy, a therapeutic preschool program, which offers speech, occupational, feeding, and ABA therapy.

RSVP for our FREE 8th Annual Developmental Differences Resource Fair on March 31, 2019! Chat with service providers from all over the city, including OT, PT, ABA, speech, therapeutic preschools and extracurriculars. Plus, free workshops on IEPs, challenging behaviors and navigating insurance.

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The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email laura@npnparents.org with your topic ideas.


Posted on October 25, 2018 at 11:43 AM