Q. What makes Lionheart unique?
Lionheart has a developmental relationship-based approach to learning. Lionheart looks at the child’s individual profile, the child’s strengths and challenges and develops a unique program that fits the child. Lionheart recognizes that every child, even with the same diagnosis, is very different. The favorable staff to student ratio allows us to develop an individualized program, to evaluate each child throughout the year and modify the program as needed. Lionheart stresses the importance of addressing the sensory underpinnings of a child’s developmental difficulties. We look at the pyramid of development, and work on gaps that may exist, to enable each child to consolidate for learning the foundation needed to move forward. Lionheart utilizes the DIR® model of Dr. Stanley Greenspan as its foundation. This model recognizes that affect is the motivating factor for a child’s desire to interact, communicate, think and learn. The staff is trained in knowing what is developmentally appropriate, as well as what motivates a child to learn. Our commitment is to work closely with the parents and other professionals to meet each child’s needs.
Q. Does Lionheart have classes and homework?
Each student is assigned to a classroom, but each student’s schedule is tailored to the individual profile. Everyone’s schedule includes reading and math; subjects such as science, social studies, and literature become part of a student’s schedule when appropriate. Electives include art, yoga, physical education, life thinking, music and drama. Shared experiences, special interest topics and community based activities are embedded throughout the school year. Homework is also based on the individual profile and given when appropriate.
Q. How do you address the development of skills?
At Lionheart we work hard on the development of basic academic skills, particularly word recognition, writing and computation. At the same time we pay close attention to developing student’s conceptual capacities. From the beginning we address the need for students to comprehend what they read and learn to make inferences and conclusions based on what they read. For example, a child is able to read, only when he can answer questions that reflect back to the inferences made within the context of the reading material and not just within the written script. Lionheart emphasizes the ‘thinking’ portion of skill development. We address math concepts in the same manner. It is not sufficient that a child can count, add, subtract and do math problems, children need to generalize what they know to other areas and comprehend what those numbers mean. Social development is also emphasized at Lionheart. Teachers and therapists address social needs throughout every day and provide opportunities for interaction and engagement. Teachers and therapists model opportunities for social development and help students navigate social situations. Built into the program are experiential learning opportunities for the students to practice their skills. We want our students to be thinkers and problem solvers, therefore our approach discourages rote learning and memorization.
Q. How does Lionheart provide opportunities for social interaction?
Lionheart provides an intensive and highly specialized program for children in a small group. Social development is a priority at Lionheart. All programs and parents have the same long-term goals for social interaction. We all want our children to have warm relationships with peers. It is our experience that children make the best progress by interacting with other children in very small groups in carefully planned settings. For many children with social and communication challenges large groups have too much sensory input and can be too overwhelming to be useful. It is very difficult to abstract the social information needed from rapidly changing interactive settings. With this in mind we structure interactions between pairs of children and very small groups in a supportive setting facilitated by skilled adults. As children are ready we provide successively more challenging and complex interactive experiences. Peer mentors work with the children after school and during special field trips.
Q. Should my child continue to go to private therapy?
Although our program is very intensive and covers many areas of development, some children need to continue private therapy. This of course depends on the child and is completely up to the discretion of the parents and private therapists involved. We work closely with private therapists as needed and are available to discuss your child’s comprehensive program with them
Q. How is Lionheart funded?
Private tuition and contributions solely support the operating expenses of Lionheart. This is supplemented by fundraising and volunteer time from parents, board members and other individuals. The cost of the program is directly correlated with the highly skilled professionals at Lionheart and the low staff to student ratio. Lionheart staff are experts in development, who have years of extensive experience and training across many diverse educational settings, who have love and compassion for children that learn differently. We are an accredited school that accepts SB10 funding and we belong to the GOAL School Scholarship Organization.
Q. What population of children does Lionheart serve?
Lionheart serves a wide range of individual profiles. To benefit from Lionheart children need to be able to be a part of a small group. We look at the functional developmental levels of each child rather than their diagnosis. These areas include auditory or visual processing, language or speech, fine and/or gross motor planning, self-regulation and relatedness. Again, we support a team approach for each child and family, using a model that conceptualizes functional developmental deficits and strengths and constructs individually oriented strategies based on knowledge from each of the disciplines that work with development (Greenspan & Wieder, Chapter 4 in the ICDL Clinical Practice Guidelines). Our trans-disciplinary team includes educators, occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist, DIR® specialists, technology and reading specialists.
Q. What do you consider when looking at a child’s individual profile?
We look at each child’s unique differences and how we can help work through specific challenges that the child faces. We also put a lot of emphasis on how involved the family is and what they have done to help overcome obstacles. Although we offer a comprehensive program, we want parents to continue working with their child at home and realize that Lionheart is a collaborative effort to help your child be successful.
Q. What does it mean the program is Relationship-based?
Many years of research and observation support the idea that the most effective way to teach children analytic reasoning or thinking is through opportunities that have more “emotional experience”. Observations suggest that emotional interactions play a far more critical role in intellectual functioning. Emotions are actually the internal architects, conductors or organizers of our minds. They tell us how and what to think, what to say and when to say it, and what to do. We “know” things through our emotional interactions and then apply that knowledge to the cognitive world. The ability to understand another person’s feelings and care about how he or she feels can only arise out of a series of nurturing interactions. Even academic and cognitive concepts in math are based on early emotional experiences. “A lot” or “a little” has certain emotion driven interpretations. The use of grammar is largely innate and only needs some very general types of social stimulation to get going is based part on very specific emotional interactions. We can best help our children develop tools for mastery by continually offering them nurturing emotional interactions. (Dr. Stanley Greenspan, Building Healthy Minds, p.8-11).
Q. Does Lionheart have a waiting list?
Lionheart does not keep a waiting list. If your child is not accepted for the upcoming school year, please resubmit a new application for the following year.
Q. What age group does Lionheart serve?
We make our enrollment decisions on a case-by-case basis, and we do not have a strict cut-off age for new admissions. Lionheart will only consider children who will be at least 5 years of age by the beginning of the school year in which they are applying. Currently, our students range in age from 5 to 21.
Q. Can my child start at Lionheart during the school year?
We will accept students throughout the year if there is an opening in a classroom and the student fits the age group and profile for that classroom. However, we make every effort to fill our classrooms before the start of school in August. Please submit your application as soon as possible to be considered for placement during the school year.
Q. What is Lionheart’s tuition?
Tuition for the 2015-2016 school year is $26,000. Limited financial aid is available. All financial aid applications are processed by NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools). Financial aid allocations are finalized by June 1st.
Q. Does Lionheart accept SB10 money/vouchers?
Lionheart is a state approved school that accepts SB10 vouchers. The family is required to submit all necessary paperwork to determine what their child qualifies for. Once your child is accepted to Lionheart, Lionheart will notify the state that your child is enrolled. All checks will be sent directly to the school. Lionheart requires families to adhere to Lionheart’s tuition scheduled payments and SB10 money will be applied accordingly.
Q. How long does it take to review an application? When will I hear back from Lionheart?
We make every effort to review an application as quickly as possible. It typically takes 1-2 business days to review an application. It may take a little longer during the summer (when we are not fully staffed) and during the Winter Holidays. If you do not hear back from us within 2 weeks of submitting your application, please feel free to call us for a status update.