Early Learning Center

During preschool years, learning is spontaneous and prepares children to enter elementary classes with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts.  All children have an innate drive, an ability to learn, and individual learning needs. The Early Learning Center (ELC) at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) provides a Montessori preschool for these young learners.  Children ages 3-5, deaf and blind, learn together in classrooms where they have hands-on experience with materials specifically researched and designed to teach foundations of language, math, writing, science, and social studies concepts.

The Montessori approach cultivates a child’s natural desire to learn, think, and act independently.  In a Montessori classroom, children become self-motivated and self-disciplined, and they retain the sense of curiosity that some children may lose along the way in traditional classrooms.  Children are able to work at their own pace and ability, and they learn to act with care and respect toward their fellow students. The Montessori experience nurtures a joy of learning that prepares children for further challenges.

Younger children usually want to do what the older children are doing.  A multi-age Montessori classroom offers an inherent motivator for children to constantly challenge themselves.  The older children benefit tremendously from this grouping, as they become both teachers and leaders, developing confidence and independence.  The process of sharing what they know reaffirms what they have already learned.

Lessons are discovery-based and children are encouraged to follow their curiosity, to be inquisitive, and to think creatively as they solve problems and learn to be self-directed in a structured environment.  They work in blocks of time that let them explore and answer the questions, “what if?” and “why?”  By finding their own solutions, they expand their knowledge base and personalize their learning in ways that are not possible in traditional education models.

Parents choose to enroll their children in the Early Learning Center for a variety of reasons:  academic rigor, socialization, a large and supportive learning community, the excellent reputation of FSDB, parent support, and the Montessori curriculum.

ELC Programs

The Toddler Class is a part-time, center-based program for children ages 18-36 months who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The four day/week two and one half hours daily program provides children and their families with opportunities for socialization, interaction and language learning.  The Toddler Class offers language and social development among peers in both spoken English and American Sign Language.  Weekly classroom themes offer exposure to daily life activities, and parents are welcome to join in classroom activities.

The Preschool Classes are full-time, self-contained programs for children ages 3-5 who are either deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired.  Each class is taught by a highly qualified teacher of the deaf or teacher of the blind, and is staffed with instructional assistants.  Spoken English, ASL and simultaneous communication are used, based on each child’s needs, goals, abilities and strengths.

For more information, contact:

Gail Strassel
Director, Early Learning Center
904.201.4529 VP

FSDB Early Learning Center smiling blind student with glasses    FSDB Early Learning Center teacher signing with deaf student   FSDB Early Learning Center blind student painting