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Westport to screen preschoolers for 'at-risk' issues

Published 7:35 am, Friday, May 24, 2013
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Westport public schools plan to screen preschool children who might be at-risk for learning problems.

The screenings -- which will look at a child's development in areas such as language, motor skills, and self-help skills -- will take place June 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at Coleytown Elementary School, 65 Easton Road.

The screenings will use the same criteria set forth by Title 1, a U.S. Department of Education program that seeks to identify and assist children in low-income school districts. Screenings are by appointment only. Parents must be Westport residents, and the child must be 3 years old by September.

There are various reasons why a child could be "at-risk" for learning, said Gwen Goldman, a social worker at Stepping Stones Preschool, which serves both special education and typical students.

"It could be because of financial problems or social problems, it could be because learning skills are delayed. So it's really a pervasive thing that they look at. It's not just based on finances," Goldman said.

During the 45-minute screening, children will play alone and interact with others in a relaxed atmosphere, Goldman said.

"It's a very child-friendly opportunity. They work with a special-ed teacher, a speech and language therapist, a social worker, a psychologist, taking some standardized assessments."

Some parents suspect their child is slow with learning, or perhaps they are made aware of the potential by day care workers or pediatricians, Goldman said.

"If we have concerns that the child is at-risk, then we offer them the opportunity to join our program (at Stepping Stones)," Goldman said.

To make a screening appointment, call Carol Haberlin at 203-341-1712.