The Arc of Union County Launches Smart Start Preschool Readiness Program

Many parents prep their children for kindergarten by signing them up for preschool, but what about children who need assistance before preschool?

The Arc of Union County piloted its Smart Start Preschool Readiness Program from April 5 to May 10, 2016 at The Arc Kohler School in Mountainside. Offered on Tuesdays for 1-hour morning sessions, this was a 6-week initiative for 15 children ages 18 months to 3 years old, with developmental delays or disabilities. The children experienced modified classroom routines such as circle time, story time, music and art. The initiative is an extension of The Arc’s Early Intervention program. Target skills areas for improvement included but were not limited to, social skills, attention skills and imitation skills. The Arc will launch a second six-week session of Smart Start Preschool Readiness May 24-June 28.

During the sessions, parents remained on site but observed their children through windows. This time offered parents a chance to participate in group meetings, with topics such as deep breathing and relaxation techniques by a physical therapist; sensory information by an occupational therapist; transition to preschool Q&A session by a social worker; and a speech-therapy related topic.

“This is the first time many of the children are separating from their parents, transitioning to a classroom environment, and also interacting with peers,” said Eileen Mastricova, Children’s Behavior Coordinator. “The parents are very pleased with the progress they witness week after week. They look forward to seeing their children’s smiling faces after each class and most have signed up for our second session. This has been such a rewarding experience and I would like to thank all of the families for entrusting us with their precious children!”

In the first session, the children demonstrated a marked improvement in attention skills, communication and socialization. A family survey reported that parents were highly satisfied with their child’s development, the information they received, and support felt by interacting with other parents.

For more information about Smart Start Preschool Readiness, please contact Meredith Hofmann, Director of Children’s Services and Family Support, at 908-276-6660 or

About the Arc of Union County

With more than six decades of service, The Arc has grown into Union County, New Jersey’s, largest provider of on- and off-site educational, recreational and support services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. A registered 501c3 non-profit, the organization serves more than 1,000 children and adults annually through a continuum of comprehensive programs geared to assist clients and their families throughout all stages of their lives. For more information, visit, or call 973-315-0000.

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