more than 50% of students are not prepared for kindergarten,
and as many as 60% lack adequate reading readiness skills.
Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age five,
thus making the first five years of life a critical window for learning.
By age three, children from families on welfare have been exposed on average to one-third the number of words as children from high-income families,
a deficit of 30 million words.
By 18 months of age, toddlers from disadvantaged families are already
several months behind in language proficiency,
compared to children from wealthier families. That gap in language processing and vocabulary doubles by the time the child turns two.
Small Steps has implemented an approach to early childhood education called SET (Social Emotional Tools) for Life©, created by Michelle M. Forrester, PhD, which emphasizes a relationship- and language-based format to address the social and emotional needs of children. Small Steps employs three full-time master’s level SET for Life Program Specialists to meet the needs of Small Steps students. Additionally, Small Steps partners with outside providers to give parents the opportunity to have their children’s needs met. These services may include mental health, occupational, speech, and/or physical therapy services.SET for Life
Small Steps provides our students with breakfast, lunch, and a snack Mondays through Thursdays and breakfast and lunch on Fridays (due to a half-day on Fridays), fulfilling the majority of each student’s daily nutritional needs. Students have a safe, spacious playground at Small Steps where they can run and play, as well as a vegetable garden and butterfly garden that provide students with additional opportunities to connect with nature. Small Steps also provides transportation in staff-driven vans to approximately one-third of our students, who would otherwise have no way of getting to and from school.
The school maintains a low teacher to child ratio of approximately one to seven and utilizes the project approach to learning, which allows for the integration of each piece of our curricula. Small Steps also provides speech therapy to qualifying students with an on-site speech pathologist, as well as support with special education referrals and evaluations.
Our nurturing community demonstrates love to students through close relationships with their primary teachers and encouragement of students to take risks in a safe environment. Our program includes weekly chapel and incorporates the Godly Play curriculum in the classroom to teach children about the wonder of God.
Small Steps intentionally creates opportunities to strengthen relationships and foster a community of sharing, learning, and growing with our students’ families. Parents are required to volunteer a total of ten hours each school year, and families host teachers two times a year during home visits. Small Steps offers a parent education program, which educates and encourages parents to be involved in their children’s learning, well-being, and development.