Special Start: Curriculum

Play | Independence | Self-Awareness | Communication | Community 

Sample Special Start Schedule, Integrated Classrooms

  • Arrival, Toileting, Breakfast
  • Community meeting
  • Read Aloud Centers
  • Snack, Toileting
  • Outdoor play/Specials
  • Toileting, handwashing
  • Foundational Literacy
  • Lunch
  • Rest
  • Centers/Individual Skill work
  • Foundational numeracy
  • Outdoor play/Specials
  • Closing circle 

Sample Special Start Schedule, Substantially Separate Classrooms

  • Arrival, discrete trial instruction, open play
  • Morning meeting/warm up
  • Activity table, house corner
  • Toileting, handwashing
  • Snack
  • Outdoor play
  • Toileting, handwashing, quiet reading
  • Story and circle time
  • Toileting, handwashing
  • Lunch, clean up
  • Open play, discrete trial instruction
  • Toileting, handwashing
  • Closing circle
  • Dismissal

Curriculum Overview

Special Start provides an emergent, play-based preschool program for children with and without disabilities. Teachers design supportive, rich play environments for all children that help facilitate the development of self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. In our classrooms, children develop the skills they need to be independent, curious, and persistent learners.

Each Special Start classroom is carefully designed to support play. Environments include house corners, block areas, art tables, listening centers, reading corners, and sensory activities. Playtime in a Special Start classroom includes a variety of supports, including play schemes, adult modeling, and tools to foster communication.

Social and emotional development is also supported in Special Start classrooms in a variety of ways. Our classrooms hold a daily morning meeting which is adapted from the Responsive Classroom model and includes greeting, sharing, a group activity, and a morning message. Teachers share a whole group and individual visual schedule with children each day. They model emotion identification and regulation to help young children learn about and navigate their feelings. Special Start teachers and therapists also support children in communicating with others in many different ways, including through words and/or augmentative and alternative forms of communication. In the 2024-2025 school year, Cambridge Preschool Program will be implementing the following curricula: Focus on Pre-K, Heggerty, and Building Blocks.

English Language Arts
Focus on Pre-K Curriculum

Phonemic Awareness
Heggerty Curriculum

Building Blocks Curriculum
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