Preschool Ages 3 - 5

Preschool Referrals

Preschool age children are defined as children who are at least three years of age and not more than five years of age, or five years of age but not eligible to be enrolled in kindergarten.

If a parent, therapist, teacher, or First Steps provider suspects that a child (age 3-5) has an educational disability, then areferral request via email or phone will be sent to the School Psychologist at the Office of Academic Programs (765-724-5060).

The referral is then assigned to a multi-disciplinary team who will formally evaluate the child by the child's third birthday (if coming from First Steps) or within 50 school days.

A child who is eligible for early childhood special education is preschool age and has one or more disabilities as determined by a case conference committee. Article 7 (Indiana's special education law) describes each of the disability areas and how a child will qualify.

What Preschool Programming is Available?

Alexandria Community School Corporation provides walk-in speech and/or related services as well as a developmental preschool classroom at Alexandria Elementary School. Developmental Preschool meets Monday through Thursday in the mornings from 8:00 am-11:15 am or afternoons from 12:00 pm-3:15 pm. Walk-in services are scheduled at the parent's and therapists' convenience.

Walk-in Speech Therapy

A child demonstrating a delay of 1 - 1 ½ standard deviations below the mean in one area of language development would qualify for individual or small group speech/language therapy time. These sessions would normally consist of meeting one time per week for 30 minutes, but this is a case conference decision.

Developmental Preschool

A child demonstrating a delay of either 2 standard deviations below the mean in one of the following developmental areas OR 1 ½ standard deviations below the mean in any two of the following developmental areas:

1) Gross or fine motor development

2) Cognitive development

3) Receptive or expressive language development

4) Social or emotional development

5) Self-help or other adaptive development

would qualify for placement in developmental preschool.

Who Should Be Referred?

A child transitioning from First Steps services or any child ages 3-5 who is not yet eligible for kindergarten and has developmental concerns.

Areas of Concern may include:

  • Fine and/or Gross Motor Skills
  • Speech and Language
  • Socialization and/or Behavior
  • Vision and/or Hearing
  • Learning
  • Adaptive (i.e. feeding, dressing, toileting)

Who Can Make a Referral?

Referrals may come from anyone, but usually come from First Steps, parents, family members, physicians, and child care providers.

How Does a Child Qualify for Services?

  1. Referral:

The Office of Academic Programs Administrative Assistant will take information about the child over the phone from anyone who calls. Callers will be asked if parents are aware of the referral. Referral number is (765)724-5060. The Administrative Assistant will answer the phone in most cases.

  1. Permission to Evaluate:

The preschool coordinator will meet with the parent or mail paperwork to obtain their permission to evaluate the child. Parent checklists and a developmental history form will be given to the parents to fill out and return when they come in for the evaluation.

  1. Eligibility Evaluation:

Qualified Specialists will evaluate the child's development in any area of concern. These may include a psychologist, speech/language pathologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or teachers who work with students who are blind/low vision or deaf/hard of hearing or on the autism spectrum.

  1. Eligibility Determination:

Evaluation results will be shared at a team meeting called a case conference. Team members may include parents, evaluators, a representative from the public school (usually the preschool coordinator), and any other persons the parent may wish to include (a representative from First Steps, Sunday School Teacher, Day Care Provider, Advocate, or other Family member.

  1. Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Service Plan:

If the child is found eligible for special education and related services, team members will identify the child's current levels of development and what the child needs to learn. Team members identify how the child's educational goals will be met. This document is called an IEP or Service Plan.

  1. Placement:

The team makes a decision about walk-in services or attending the developmental preschool classroom. A date for services to start is set. Transportation is arranged if needed for developmental preschool.

Here is a chart to further explain the process.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q - What is special education for preschool children ages (3-5)?

A - Special education is individualized special instruction for young children who are experiencing challenges or delays in their development.

Q - Who provides special education?

A - The local school district is required by state and federal law to provide special education services for any child who is eligible.

Q - How do I know if my child needs services?

A - If you have concerns about your child's learning and development, you should make a referral to see if they are eligible.

Q - What does this cost?

A - All services, including the evaluation, are provided free of charge.

Q - Are there other options besides special education preschool at Alexandria Elementary School?

A - Yes—Title I full day preschool is available to eligible 4 year olds. Screenings are done in April/May of each year. Contact Kimberly Goodman at (765)724-7788.

Q - What services, if any, are available prior to age 3?

A - For information on services for children ages 0-3 in the state of Indiana, please contact First Steps at:

First Steps - Cluster H
East Central Indiana
7221 Engle Road, Ste. 100
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
Phone: 260-207-5799
Toll Free: 1-877-494-5115
Fax: 260-478-4850 or 1-877-494-5116
Counties: Blackford, Delaware, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph & Wayne

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