The Augustin Children’s Center at CP Rochester is a universal pre-kindergarten provider, offering preschool to all children three to five years of age, with or without disabilities. Each preschool classroom has 12 children with an adult-to-child ratio of 1:4. The classes are fully integrated, meaning that there are six children with disabilities and six children without disabilities. The teachers who lead the classes have a master’s level degree in special education. In addition to the daily activities in the classroom, children have the opportunity to enjoy many other features, such as an indoor pool, a large gymnasium, an outdoor exploratory classroom, and a large playground with a safe surface. For the children that need therapeutic services, CP Rochester offers special education, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, pool therapy, and music therapy.
The preschool that CP Rochester offers will help all the children participating in many ways. A child’s development, intelligence, and personality are all powerfully affected by their surroundings and experiences during childhood. Attending preschool at CP Rochester enables all children, regardless of disability, to take full advantage of their educational, physical, and emotional growth potential. All the children at CP Rochester also gain an appreciation for diversity and learn how to develop friendships with children of different backgrounds and abilities.
Although attending any preschool is better than staying at home, it has been shown that high-quality preschool generates the best outcomes in all facets of childhood development. The AAP recently outlined the indicators of a high-quality early education program in an article in the journal Pediatrics. According to this policy statement by the AAP, a preschool program is considered to be high quality if it is state licensed, the staff-to-child ratio is 1:8 with a group size of <16 for 4 year-old children, if the staff have college degrees in early childhood education, if there are infection control policies (ex: children wash hands after toiling and before eating), and if there are injury prevention practices in place (ex: developmentally appropriate toys and equipment).
With the adult-to-child ratio, the level of education of the teachers, the infection control and injury prevention practices, and the many different therapeutic services, it is clear that the preschool program at CP Rochester does not only meet the criteria for a high-quality program, it exceeds them. According to the article, attending a high-quality program makes a difference in many aspects of development: “children who attend high-quality early childhood programs demonstrate better math and language skills, better cognition and social skills, better interpersonal relationships, and better behavioral self-regulation than do children in lower-quality care.” Furthermore, the positive outcomes from high-quality programs are magnified for children with special needs.
During the Pediatric Links to the Community rotation, Pediatric, Medicine-Pediatics, and Family Medicine residents have the opportunity to spend a full morning in one of the preschool classrooms at CP Rochester. Residents interact and play with the children and participate in the day’s activities. Through this experience, they get a first-hand understanding of how important preschool is, not just for preparation for kindergarten, but for so many aspects of childhood development.
For more information or to schedule a tour, please call (585) 334-6000 ext 1212 or visit http://www.cprochester.org.
Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care. “Quality Early Education and Child Care From Birth to Kindergarten.” Pediatrics 2005; 115: 187-191.