Special Needs Programmes

Nursery Program


To provide children with educational, logical thinking, problem solving and adaptive behavioural skills in preparation for kindergarten and school inclusion. Children will build on the basic language, literacy and social skills that they have developed in the early years. Focus will also be placed on building logical thinking and problem solving skills. Early math and number skills are introduced and reinforced through practical experiences to ensure a good understanding of fundamental concepts. Children are encouraged to become more independent and to develop self-help skills that will help them become more effective learners.

Area of Focus

Language and Literacy
Math and Problem Solving Skills
Social and Emotional Development
Fine-motor Skills
Gross-motor Skills
Creative Development (includes Music, Arts & Craft, Speech & Drama)
Nature and Science exploration
Physical Development

Support Activities

Speech Therapy
Occupational Therapy
Field Trips

Language & Literacy

The child in this age group now talks in sentences of 4 or more words. He or she talks about activities (e.g., what was done in preschool that day) easily, without repeating syllables or words. Your child understands and answers simple who, what, and where questions.
The Language and Literacy continues language development in a fun way. A fundamental goal of the language program is to make the children understand the systematic relationship between the letters and sounds and to sensitize them to sound similarities by getting them to listen to patterned, predictable text. They learn phonics while enjoying the feel of reading and language. Zoo-phonics (see separate write-up) methodology is used by St Gerard's to teach children phonics.
The children will be provided with regular opportunities to express themselves on paper, without feeling too constrained for correct spelling and proper handwriting to emphasize that writing has real purpose.
Children will also expand on social communication and story-telling skills by "acting out" typical scenarios (e.g., cooking food, going to sleep, and going to the doctor) with a dollhouse and its props. Children are also encouraged to be involved in role-playing activities.
The use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication Symbols) will be expanded in accordance with the ability of the individual child to communicate their intent. The program will continue to focus on experiential learning and children will be encouraged to express themselves in conversation and through activities like 'show-and-tell".
Books with simple plots will also be read to them and these activities are designed to help children re-tell the story or to act it out with props and dress-up clothes.
Speech and Language therapists will continue to help children with speech and language delays.

Math and Problem Solving Skills

Mathematics helps children make sense of the world around them and find meaning in the physical world. Through mathematics, children learn to understand their world in terms of numbers and shapes. They learn to reason, to connect ideas, and to think logically.
Understanding the concept of number is fundamental to mathematics. Children move from beginning to develop basic counting techniques to later understanding number size, relationships, and operations. The children are encouraged to arrange sets of concrete objects in one-to-one correspondence, count by ones to 10 or higher, etc.
Recognizing patterns and relationships among objects is an important component in children's intellectual development. Children learn to organize their world by recognizing patterns and gradually begin to use patterns as a strategy for problem-solving, forming generalizations, and developing the concepts of number, operation, shape, and space. Pattern recognition is the first step in the development of algebraic thinking.
Children are encouraged to recognize and reproduce simple patterns of concrete objects (e.g., a string of beads that are yellow, blue, blue, yellow, blue, blue), begin to recognize patterns in their environment (e.g., day follows night, repeated phrases in storybooks, patterns in carpeting or clothing), etc
Geometry helps children systematically represent and describe their world. Children learn to name and recognize the properties of various shapes and figures, to use words that indicate direction, and to use spatial reasoning to analyze and solve problems. Children begin to recognize, describe, and name shapes (e.g., circles, triangles, rectangles-including squares), begin to use words that indicate where things are in space (e.g., "beside," "inside," "behind," "above," "below"), begin to recognize when a shape's position or orientation has changed, begin to put together puzzles of increasing complexity.
Measurement is one of the most widely used applications of mathematics. Early learning experiences with measurement should focus on direct comparisons of objects. Children make decisions about size by looking, touching, and comparing objects directly while building language to express the size relationships. two or three objects by size (seriation) (e.g., largest to smallest) (age 4).
Children use sorting to organize their world. As children recognize similarities and differences, they begin to recognize patterns that lead them to form generalizations. As they begin to use language to describe similarities and differences, they begin sharing their ideas and their mathematical thinking. Children can be actively involved in collecting, sorting, organizing, and communicating information. Children match objects that are alike, sort objects into groups by an attribute and begins to explain how the grouping was done, etc

Social and Emotional Development

Social skills are behaviours that improve the child's personal interactions with peers and others. Children learn to take turns, share and work co-operatively to solve problems. Children also learn to express their feelings in words and gestures. Children are also encouraged to understand that their peers have their own opinions and feelings. Independent conflict resolution is also encouraged. Children will be introduced to norms and rules governing different environmental settings (eg, the dinner table, library, at play, etc) and taught the appropriate behaviours in different social settings. Children will be encouraged to perform their daily routines independently.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Children continue to develop gross-motor and fine-motor skills through a comprehensive program of outdoor activities, play and work activities. Gross motor skills are developed through playground activities, water play, sand play, bicycles and tricycles and games. The focus is increasingly on associative and co-operative play. Fine-motor skills are developed through activities such as painting, threading, pegging etc - all designed to improve tactile integration and manipulation, grasping, releasing and bilateral skills. These are designed to help the children hold, write and draw with pencils comfortably.
Children are seen in occupational therapy to maximize his or her independence in the home, school and community environments. Our Occupational Therapists are skilled in assessing a child's functional levels in the areas of fine-motor and gross motor, visual perception, visual motor, self-care/ activities of daily living, feeding and sensory processing. In addition, Occupational Therapists assess the need for adaptive equipment and technology, and make the appropriate recommendations.

Creative Development

Developmentally appropriate play, music and art lessons will help to build the child's cognitive, social and physical skills and his or her specific stage of development. Creative development at St Gerard's encompasses music appreciation, arts and craft, speech and drama. Music appreciation includes action songs and rhythms which further contributes to language development. Children will experiment with different mediums and this enhances their imagination and help them to make their own discoveries about learning. Speech and Drama, where appropriate, will be introduced to enhance their confidence and self-esteem. To keep lessons stimulating, the programs are changes regularly.

Nature and Science Exploration

Children will be introduced to Science in a fun way. The children will be exposed to basic science skills like observing, comparing and questioning. The focus is to learn about the world through all their 5 senses. We will provide opportunities for children to explore, investigate and experiment with objects that interest and challenge them. This will open the window of opportunity for them to accomplish several feats - they can learn and apply new skills like keen observation and collaborate with peers and develop their grasp of basic concepts like growth, colours, weight, etc.

Physical Development

Playground activities, Sand play, Water play, learning to ride bicycles and tricycles have been incorporated into the curriculum to focus on the children's physical development and the development of gross-motor skills.

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) helps the child realize his or her maximum communicative ability. The Speech Language Therapist assesses the child's communicative ability and then prioritizes the intervention goals that best meets the child's needs. Intervention can begin with the child in an individual session, in a group setting or in consultation with the staff or parents.
Speech and Language therapeutic intervention for the child may cover developing basic communication (pre-linguistic) skills, verbal comprehension, spoken vocabulary, sentence expansion, articulation, voice and a more efficient respiratory system. For some children, an alternative and/or augmentative communication(AAC) system may be introduced such as signing, object/picture communication system or specific AAC devices to enhance overall communication.
Another important area that SLTs address is the development of appropriate feeding skills and maintenance of safe swallowing for the child.

Occupational Therapy Services in St Gerard's.

We have our own team of qualified Occupational Therapists who evaluate, specify and treat problems interfering with functional performance.
Fine Motor Manipulation - Children are taught how to use their hands together, hold small items correctly and use a pencil and scissors in preparation for school readiness and dressing skills. Handwriting programme is also conducted.
Perceptual Skills - Uses puzzles and copying designs to help children develop eye-hand coordination and other perceptual skills that affect functional mobility and home safety.
Sensory Processing - Assists children in developing the perception & use of touch, movement, sight, sound, smell, the force of gravity and body position to function in their environment.
Sensory Motor - Teaches children how to use their senses to move their bodies through the environment e.g. postural control, motor planning etc.
Activities of Daily Living - Emphasis on achieving independence in daily living activities such as dressing, grooming, brushing, bathing, feeding & toileting
Oral Motor Control - Assists children in learning how to use the muscles of the mouth to suck, swallow and chew. Learning to use a spoon and drinking from a cup is also emphasized.
Behaviour - Works on children who need some sort of sensory input to focus on tasks in classroom and at home. Also helps children who are hypoactive and hyperactive to achieve optimal arousal state using sensory activities to perform better in different settings.
Equipment/Seating - Provides children with the necessary equipment to facilitate development (seats, splints, adaptive spoons, straps for chairs and other specialized equipment). When needed, the environment is also modified to suit the children's needs, and to enhance their independence where possible.

Field Trips

Field trips are to be carried out as and when needed to support an ongoing theme or as a term end activity. Field trips help children learn and understand the world in a fun way. Field trips may include visits to supermarkets, parks, fire stations, the Zoo, the Birdpark, etc.