Lower Primary

Students in the Lower Primary School spend their days working in centers and small-group instruction consisting of math, reading, writing, play, social skills, movement and self-help skills. Students have physical education, library, music, computer and art daily.

KeyStone136Lower Primary School classes use the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) developed by world renowned researcher Sally Rogers (MIND Institute) and Geraldine Dawson (Autism Speaks) as the primary model of instruction and intervention. The ESDM is a comprehensive model that addresses developmental skills in the areas of academics/cognition, language, play, social interaction, joint attention imitation, motor skills, self-help and behavior.

The ESDM differs from many traditional ABA programs in that it uses a developmentally based curriculum and focuses heavily on relationship building, communication and affect. Much of the teaching occurs through joint activity routines, in which both parent/therapist/teacher and child are focused on creating learning activities together.

ESDM incorporates aspects from three empirically supported models of intervention:

  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA)
  • Denver Model
  • Pivotal response training

For more information about ESDM efficacy, please visit the ESDM website.
For resources and manual, please download ESDM Manual to Use with Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Lower Primary School classrooms are further supported by staff training and implementation of Tools of the Mind curriculum. Tools curriculum integrates seamlessly into the ESDM model. In a Tools classroom:

  • Teachers systematically scaffold children’s moving along the continuum of self-regulation from being regulated by others to engaging in “shared” regulation to eventually becoming “masters of their own behavior.”
  • Children gain control of their social, emotional and cognitive behaviors by learning how to use a variety of “mental tools.”
  • Teaching of early literacy and mathematics emphasizes building underlying cognitive competencies such as reflective thinking and metacognition.
  • Children practice self-regulated learning throughout the day by engaging in a variety of specifically designed, developmentally appropriate self-regulation activities.
 Children learn to regulate their own behaviors as well as the behaviors of their friends as they enact increasingly more complex scenarios in their imaginary play in preschool and in learning activities in kindergarten.

For more information on Tools of the Mind, please visit Tools of the Mind: Focus on Self-Regulation.

While each student receives a solid foundation in classroom instruction, Mainspring strongly recommends that parents also pursue the following additional services to provide comprehensive intervention and treatment:

  • 1:1 ABA therapy
  • Home-based consultation
  • Parent training and coaching
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech and language therapy

The intensity and type of services a student should receive are based on the student and family’s needs and current assessments.