In early fall, the sound of little laughter is often heard echoing the hallways in building 3. In an open and cheery room, most Timothy families have not visited before, Kindergartners sit playing games with tiny toys, coloring and enjoying some hands-on activities.
“They love to come here. We play little games and toys are involved and the activities are fun,” says Linda Bailey, Educational Therapist at TCS.
Few students realize they are actually being tested – or in better terms – “scanned” – during their time with Mrs. Bailey, as part of the Search & Teach program at Timothy.
“Search & Teach is an early intervention program geared to identify, or “search,” all students in a Kindergarten class, and identify which are going to have academic trouble down the road if problem areas are not addressed,” says Bailey.
Bailey, who leads the program, has the chance to sit down with each and every Kindergartner in the fall and look at how they are doing in areas such as visual and auditory processing, visual motor skills and more.
The scan is not something students need to prepare for. They are being tested on the basic skills necessary for success as they begin formal training in reading and language arts. The scan only takes 20 minutes, but for Linda it reveals a lot.
“We are finding those who could slip through the cracks and ensuring that they are not left behind.”
The scan results indicate which students are considered vulnerable and will be recommended for the Teach part of the program.
Teach is a series of 55 learning activities called “tasks” which have been compiled to specifically target and strengthen any weak areas revealed through the Search portion of the program. Mrs. Bailey picks out the activities needed for a specific child.
“We work on a task until we feel the student has mastered it.”
The primary goal of the Search & Teach program is to prepare children for reading success, which in turn sets them up for success in all subject areas as well as socially and emotionally.
“I really love the Search & Teach program. When a Kindergartner starts the program, they already have a sense that they are struggling. After working with them for just a few months, I watch them gain such confidence,” says Bailey. “You can see that change in their attitude.”
According to research at least 30% of students tested will need the program. Yet this isn’t anything for parents to worry about. Identifying weaknesses early on in their academic career, only helps to alleviate problems later.
“If we can identify problem areas in Kindergarten and help them at that age, it’s so much easier. If you have to wait until 3rd or 4th grade when they start failing, it’s so much harder at that point,” Bailey explains.
Once children are identified for the Teach part of the program, parents are informed. There is an additional fee for the program. Linda encourages them all to take part in it and can attest to the remarkable success children who are part of it have.
“I have seen children make tremendous progress. Most do not need additional help through the Timothy Learning Center once they have mastered the tasks that strengthen their weak areas.”
Search & Teach is one significant way TCS is helping to meet our students where they are and set them up for success academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.