Peer Model ProgramThe Early Childhood Special Education Peer Modeling Program is a unique opportunity for preschool aged children to model classroom behavior and skills for children who have developmental delays. In addition, children who participate in the Peer Modeling Program gain confidence in a school routine that will prepare them for Kindergarten."Research has suggested that children who are typically developing, who have been in inclusive settings, and who interact with children who have disabilities hold a more positive attitude towards people with disabilities than their peers who lack this experience (Favazza & Odom, 1997; Stoneman, 1993). In fact, Diamond (2001) and Stoneman (1993) suggested that those positive experiences enhance the development of positive attitudes both during the early years and later."Cross, A. F., Traub, E. K., Hutter-Pishgahi, L., & Shelton, G. (2004). Elements of Successful Inclusion for Children with Significant Disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 24(3).
A peer model is a child without a disability who displays typical development and behavior in the classroom setting. A peer model enhances the education of special needs students by being a helper, a leader, and a friend. Peer models help special needs students reach their learning goals through play and social interactions. Peers also model typical school behaviors, such as sharing, turn taking, and participation. In return, our peers learn confidence, empathy, and school readiness skills. All students in the program participate in a variety of developmentally appropriate preschool activities.
Children being considered for the Peer Modeling Program must first participate in a preschool screening and not qualify for other Columbia Public Schools early childhood programs.
Call 214-3585 to schedule a preschool screening. Preschool screenings are at the Center for Early Learning North (CELN) located at 2191 Smiley Lane. Screenings are by appointment only.
If your child is eligible for the peer program based upon information from the screening, you will receive more detailed information about the program via phone call or email from one of our peer coordinators. Children and families then attend a peer orientation to determine classroom placement.
Children must be three years old to be considered for the Peer Modeling Program. Peer models must be toilet trained and remain toilet trained for the duration of the school year.
Two Early Childhood centers utilize peer models: The Center for Early Learning North (2191 Smiley Ln) and The Early Childhood Discovery Center (901 Rainforest Pkwy). Peers are placed based upon needs of specific classrooms rather than building location.
Classes meet Monday through Thursday. The morning school session meets from 8:20-11:20. The afternoon school session meets from 12:20-3:20. There are also a limited number of opportunities for peers to attend a specialized classroom. Please contact Betsie McCracken (contact information listed below) for more information regarding class times and specialized classrooms.
Classrooms and Policies
Each Early Childhood Special Education class has a maximum of twelve children: 8 with developmental delays and up to 4 as peer models. Each class is taught by a certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher and a classroom aide. A student is placed in the Peer Modeling Program on a conditional basis. Students must model age-appropriate preschool behavior to remain in the peer program. Peer performance is monitored through a checklist, which is shared with parents on a trimester basis. Inappropriate behavior, irregular attendance, or late payment of tuition will result in dismissal from the program.
Transportation must be provided by the parent. The Early Childhood Special Education Program cannot provide transportation for peer models.
Orientation and Selection
All potential peer candidates and their parent(s) must attend an orientation session after completing the preschool screening. During the orientation, parents receive detailed information about the program while the peer candidate participates in a mock preschool session with other peer candidates. If your child is selected for the program, you will be contacted by your child’s new teacher.
The program is tuition-based. Payment is due at the first of the month and is considered late after the 10th of the month. Tuition is $80.00 a month for four half-days per week. A deposit of $80 is due at the time of enrollment and will be used for the May payment. At anytime in the year if a payment is missed, your deposit will be used to cover the missed payment. After 2 late payments, your child will no longer be eligible for the peer program.
Inappropriate behavior, irregular attendance, or late payment of tuition will result in dismissal from the program.
To schedule a preschool screening to determine eligibility for the peer program, call
Please direct questions about the peer program to:
Betsie McCracken, M.Ed.
(573) 214-3950 ext. 21134