Getting services before kindergarten

Special Education services are for kids from age 3-22. If your child qualifies, they can get support from the school system even before they start school.

Text alternative for What can Special Education offer infographic: For children over 3 years old who are not yet in kindergarten, the school system may be able to offer at-home therapy to help with things like speech, coordination, emotions, and behaviors; access to special pre-school programs,; playgroups to help get used to group activities; and specialized instruction in their preschool.

You and the school team will develop a specific program that describes the services your child needs. Remember, these are just some examples!

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If a child needs help in order to learn, they can get support services at school that will help meet their needs.

There are two main levels of support:

  1. If your child needs specially designed instruction in order to make progress in school, they will get special education services. You will work with the school team to describe these in an Individualized Education Program, or IEP.

  2. If they just need some adjustments, or changes in the way they work in the classroom, they will get what we call accommodations. These will be described in a 504 Plan.

The IEP describes specialized instructions or services. The student may work with a learning specialist inside or outside the regular class. The 504 plan describes accommodations to help the student in the classroom. These usually are small changes that help them follow the general curriculum.

Here are some examples of special education services:

  • One-on-one or group sessions with learning specialists

  • Therapies like speech, OT (occupational therapy) or PT (physical therapy)

  • A plan to help with behavior issues

  • Counseling for coping with social or emotional issues

  • Help with special devices or equipment a child may need

Here are some examples of accommodations:

  • a specific placement for your child's desk

  • equipment to help reduce distraction (like headphones)

  • more time to take tests

  • audio or video supports (can read instructions out loud, or take notes by voice recording)

You and the school team will develop a specific plan that describe the services your child needs. Remember, these are just some examples!

Sources: Federation for Children with Special Needs, MA DOE, Casey Family Programs

Every child has a right to a free public education that meets their unique needs. It's the law.

Sources: Federation for Children with Special Needs, MA DOE, Casey Family Programs

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