Project H.E.L.P., 'Helping Educate Little People', is a pre-kindergarten program for children who are at risk of academic failure. This program is designed to address the needs both of children identified as being at risk of academic failure who, without additional help may experience difficulty in the regular classroom, and their families. Eligible children have an opportunity to adjust to school and to develop needed skills before they attend kindergarten.
Philosophy of Project H.E.L.P. Children learn by playing in an environment or setting that is developmentally appropriate for their needs. The teacher’s role is to take the “spontaneous play” of the children and modify it so that the play has educational value. Spontaneous play and teacher directed play provide a balanced program. The first goal of Project H.E.L.P. is to increase each child’s sense of dignity and self-worth. The second goal is to improve each child’s skills and abilities. By accomplishing these goals, transition into school life will be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Project H.E.L.P. recognizes the importance of parents as their child’s first teacher. The program directly involves parents of the children enrolled in the program. Parents are encouraged to participate in home visits, conferences, family gatherings and special classroom activities. Project H.E.L.P. views learning as a group effort by their Parents, Teachers and Children.
How does play help a child learn? As children begin to learn about their world around them, they desire to create order for themselves. They like to sort, to classify, to line things up, and then scatter them. They like to build things up and then knock them down. All of this enjoyable behavior is actually a child’s exploration of early learning in concepts. They are building a foundation upon which complex learning can build.
Screenings Each Spring, during February, March, and April, a team of trained certified teachers conduct the early childhood screening in each of the districts of the Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education Cooperative. Vision and hearing are additional components of the developmental screening. Parents of all children, birth to age 5, are strongly urged to make an appointment and bring their children to screening locations within each school district. Individual screenings may be scheduled from August through November, and in May. Screening information may indicate that the child is doing fine, that the child may benefit from a pre-kindergarten program for children who are at risk of academic failure, or that the child needs further evaluation.