The Bell Center Programs
= Program offered in summer only
Infants come to The Bell Center for an hour at a time and receive services in a one-on-one format with members of their transdisciplinary team which includes an early childhood special education teacher, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist. Because it is critical for parents to become active partners in their children’s learning, parents and other family members are encouraged to stay during the session to receive training so that they are able to continue essential therapies at home.
A separate, high risk infant therapy room is available to infants whose premature birth and/or medical conditions put them at increased risk to illness. While parents are encouraged to sit in on the session for training purposes, other family members are requested to stay in a nearby waiting area to reduce needless exposure to the medically fragile child.
Children with special needs grow and flourish in group settings, learning from their peers, just as their typical counterparts do. For that reason, as an infant grows toward toddler-hood, the child is transitioned into the group format he or she will likely experience in later preschool and elementary school years. In Little Leaps, small groups of four children meet for one hour and receive early intervention services in a one-on-one setting with members of the professional staff.
All About Me
Toddlers in All About Me groups come to The Bell Center for a two-hour class. Each toddler is assigned a specific volunteer who provides one-on-one direction as the toddler works on his or her individual goals. Led by a professional team which includes a special education teacher, a speech/language pathologist, physical therapist and an occupational therapist. All About Me groups have circle time with stories and songs, snack time to concentrate on feeding and language skills, group art projects and time for work on individual gross and fine motor skills. All About Me groups also have a weekly creative movement class led by Children’s Dance Foundation and every All About Me group participates in animal assisted therapy with Hand in Paw.
This program is designed for children with sensory, social and communication challenges. The small My Friends group has social language role models, as well as children with challenges. Some but not all children who participate in the program have a diagnosis of Autism. A Bell Center team including an early childhood special education teacher, speech/language pathologist, physical therapist and an occupational therapist work with the children to address their early intervention needs. The class meets for 2 hours and through adapted typical preschool activities children are challenged to successfully participate in classroom routines, interact with peers and tolerate various sensory experiences. The team uses a variety of developmentally appropriate practices to target the children’s therapy goals and also collaborates with other professionals in the community that are helping families address their child’s challenges. Parents have the opportunity to observe their child’s class and to meet with the team of professionals for updates and support.
Explore Every Day
Toddlers in Explore Every Day participate in center-based activities that are designed to promote independence in a structured therapeutic environment. A team of therapists lead children and their typically developing “friends” through preschool routines and activities. Activities are modified accordingly to provide opportunities for children to work on individual therapeutic goals while becoming more independent in a preschool environment.
This class is also led by an early childhood special education teacher, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist.
The Munch Bunch is a peer group that is led by a team of therapists focusing on self-feeding skills. The class utilizes the Sequential Oral Sensory approach to build sensory and oral motor skills to broaden a child’s acceptance of foods and develop chewing skills to manage a variety of table foods. This approach believes in supporting the child’s needs while challenging each child’s skill set. Through food play and peer modeling, each child will develop his or her own intrinsic motivation to eat. Skills across all developmental areas are addressed within the context of a mealtime. Family support is given through individual problem solving with the team, practice meals at home, and educational handouts.
The core belief of the Kindermusik approach is that all children are musical and that the parent is the child’s most important teacher. Every class offers a delightful mix of songs and activities, while each lesson is also thoughtfully designed to nurture specific learning and developmental goals. Kindermusik meets once a week for one hour and parents accompany their child to this class lead by a Bell Center staff member that is also a certified Kindermusik instructor. A team of Bell Center therapists who also participate in the class, ensuring that children target their therapy goals throughout each activity.
- Kindermusik Village, 0-18 months
- Kindermusik Our Time, 19 months-3 years
Learn to Learn
This unique program allows children and their caregivers to learn and grow together as they participate in therapist-led activities. It is an extension of the All About Me, Little Leaps, and Bright Beginnings programs. During sessions, caregivers will assist, encourage, and engage their child in an environment created for learning. A team of therapists will guide caregivers and their children through disciplined, focused activities designed to promote developmental gains in all areas of development.
This transitional program is designed to prepare graduates for their future preschool placement. A team of therapists will lead center- based activities designed to promote independence in a structured therapeutic environment. Typical preschool routines and activities will be modified accordingly to provide opportunities for children to continue to work on individual therapeutic goals in all areas of development while becoming more independent in a preschool environment. For this reason, one-to-one instruction will not be offered in the Summer Steps program.
Sensory and Skills
Pre-writing skills and a variety of sensory experiences will be the focus of this class. Small group instruction will be based on the preschool Hand Writing Without Tears curriculum and will also include movement and sensory activities. Parents will be given an informational handout each week regarding the carryover of skills into the home environment. There are prerequisites for participating in this program; please meet with your child’s team to determine if this program is developmentally appropriate for your child.
Stay and Say Playgroup
Join a team of therapists once a week for an hour and a half of guided play and conversations on topics related to raising a child with special needs. The session will begin with playtime led by a team of therapists that targets individual therapeutic goals. After 45 minutes, parents will break away with one therapist and/or speaker to engage in a discussion on predetermined topics. We will provide the necessary staff to carefully watch over the children as they continue to participate in play activities. Parents participating are encouraged to suggest topics. We believe that, as parents, you are the best experts about caring for your own children. Sharing your experiences will be helpful to other parents. Topics for discussion might include proper diet and feeding, discipline, toilet training etc.
Peer Models are an important part of the Explore Every Day, My Friends and Kindermusik programs at The Bell Center. The latest early intervention research shows that when children with special needs and typically developing children are integrated in preschool settings, both benefit from the learning experience. The children enrolled in this program serve as social language role models, as peer helpers. They also have the opportunity to grow and learn from the preschool experience provided by our highly qualified teachers and therapists. Program times and age requirements vary from school year to school year.