At the Rise School of Dallas, about three out of every ten students in our classrooms are traditional learners, or children without developmental disabilities. Children with disabilities and those without do not see a distinction between themselves in the classrooms – they are simply friends, who play and learn together and enjoy one another’s company.
The mix of children with and without disabilities is known in educational terms as an “integrated classroom or integrated environment” and Rise is one of the only private preschools in Dallas committed to a fully integrated model for all its students. Most traditional learners are siblings of children with disabilities, family members of Rise teachers, children of volunteers, neighborhood children, and families seeking a preschool with NAEYC accreditation and a very low student to teacher ratio.
Traditional learners benefit greatly from the Rise program, with elements found in few private preschools in Dallas:
- Intense individual attention allowed by its 3:1 student to teacher ratio
- Full academic, physical and social curriculum
- Full-day, year-round school schedule
- Classrooms for infants, toddlers, preschool, and pre-kindergarten
- Admission starting at twelve months and going through six years old
The short and long-term benefits of an integrated environment are equally great for children with developmental disabilities as those without. Children with and without disabilities each graduate from Rise’s pre-kindergarten reading, writing, doing math and science, using computers and iPads, and with strong social and classroom skills. All of them are ready to be a full member of a mainstream public school classroom.
Plus, traditional learners take something away from Rise that stays with them in life: compassion and empathy for the differences of others. Indeed, at the University of Alabama’s Rise Program, in place since the 1970s, alumni who are traditional learners have overwhelmingly entered “compassionate career” fields like education, social services, and health care as adults.