Howard Haber Early Learning Center, (also known as Howard Haber ELC), located in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, is a preschool for children ages 3-5. Due to its strong leadership and effective instruction, Howard Haber ELC was recently awarded the National Association for the Education of Young Children, (NAEYC) accreditation by the NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation. The school includes 15 classrooms for children with and without disabilities: four are designed for young learners with ASD, two are integrated classes that employ Universal Design for Learning (UDL), one is a bilingual classroom, and the eight remaining rooms serve children with a range of developmental delays. Within the classrooms, the teacher to student ratio can range from 12:1 to 6:1 depending on the learning and behavioral needs of the children.
All classroom teachers at Howard Haber ELC are certified by the State of New York to provide preschool instruction. There are also certified teaching assistants are in every classroom who provide support to the young learners under the supervision of the classroom teacher. For children who need related services, Howard Haber ELC has a team of school-based therapists, including speech/language, occupational, and physical therapists as well as a school psychologist. The teachers receive training and support from the administrative staff which includes program coordinators to oversee instructional or behavioral issues.
For its curricular foundation, Howard Haber ELC utilizes a preschool, play-based model called the Creative Curriculum, which is present in all AHRC NYC preschools. Within the Creative Curriculum, classrooms are structured to reflect the developmental continuum. Instruction is presented in a way that children feel safe and comfortable and, in time, become independent, confident learners. The Creative Curriculum focuses on child development, learning environments, content areas, defining the teacher role, and recognizing the family role, along with establishing specific “interest areas” in the classroom that have been shown to facilitate social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development (e.g. block area, water play, dramatic play area, etc.). The Creative Curriculum emphasizes small group instruction and rotations in order to provide the most effective, accessible instruction. Visual, auditory, and hands-on teaching are all aspects of the Creative Curriculum approach and provide the instructional tools needed to further child development. Teachers at Howard Haber ELC are also trained on a corresponding assessment system, Teaching Strategies Gold: Objectives for Development and Learning Assessment Tool, which allows them to accurately track children’s progress and identify areas that need further attention.
To encourage the consistent development of all of the young learners, the teachers at Howard Haber ELC develop programming that specifically supports the children’s unique learning needs and respects their differences in ability, culture, and learning style. While all of the young learners are taught within the context of the Creative Curriculum, teachers create differentiated, developmentally-appropriate learning environments that allow each child to explore, understand, and complete constructive tasks at their own pace.
Howard Haber ELC aims to prepare the students for the transition to elementary school through the teaching of developmentally-appropriate social, communicative, academic, and self-care skills and that requires teachers to consider the accessibility of every concept.
For its young learners with ASD who require more individualized, specialized instruction, Howard Haber ELC has high support, specifically-structured ABA classrooms led by teachers who possess specific training in autism education. Following child assessment and evaluation, the complex target skills are broken down and taught via step-by-step instruction as teachers work to ensure that the students have the learning readiness skills necessary to make the transition to elementary school.
Howard Haber ELC’s ABA classrooms emphasize consistent data collection to demonstrate the students’ progress and to identify where more support might be needed. Instructors at Howard Haber ELC have the support of the school’s experienced program coordinators as well as the agency’s BCBA-certified ABA Coordinator. The teachers and students at Howard Haber ELC also have access to helpful technology in order to facilitate instruction and to provide a multi-modal presentation of materials.
Strategies involving PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), iPads, assistive communication devices, Smartboards, and computers are commonplace in the classrooms and help instructors create motivating, reachable content that facilitates student learning. Howard Haber ELC both recognizes the potential value of technology in helping many students acquire appropriate skills but is aware of the possible issues caused by relying too heavily on these technological strategies.
Overall, the teachers of Howard Haber ELC understand the relationship between early communication skills, literacy, and development and align the appropriate supports to push each child to achieve their individualized goals.
With a focus on developing literacy, daily living, math, and other pre-academic skills, the teachers’ instruction ensures that the students’ days are the appropriate combination of interesting, interactive lessons, and focused learning opportunities that support and complement individual learning styles. Howard Haber Early Learning Center seeks to cultivate more independent young learners who will leave the school more prepared to face the fun experiences and exciting challenges of elementary school.
Howard Haber Early Learning Center
2300 Westchester Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462
Principal: Deborah Bianco
School Hours: 8:45 to 2:15