What kinds of problems does the Lucy Daniels School help with?
The comprehensive approach offered by the Lucy Daniels School integrated with the many other resources of the Lucy Daniels Center is often an optimal way of helping children with a variety of challenges. These challenges include fears, anxieties, and behavior rituals; separation problems; social isolation and peer conflicts; reactions to trauma; inattention, impulsivity, and aggressive behavior; reactions to loss or adoption; and mood problems. We only recommend the school when, after a careful evaluation, we determine that this approach is the optimal one to assist the child to reach their fullest academic, emotional, and social capacities.
What kinds of problems are not appropriate for the Lucy Daniels School?
The Lucy Daniels School is not designed for children with developmental problems, such as major speech problems or limited cognitive abilities. Although we have special educational expertise on staff, we are not the right resource for children whose primary need is in the area of a learning disability. We are also not the appropriate place for children with significant autistic features (children with limited capacities for communication and/or limited capacities to form relationships). Many children have difficulties with communication or relationships that are based on emotional rather than primarily developmental considerations, such as a condition known as selective mutism. We work with those situations in our school. Our careful assessments can distinguish these situations and guide parents to the appropriate types of help for their child, even if the Lucy Daniels School is not the right match for their child’s particular needs.
How is the approach in the Lucy Daniels School different from the approach in other schools’ special services?
Schools are not mental health facilities; appropriately, their focus is education and as such, guidance counselors and other support personnel do not provide treatment. If students have emotional difficulties in school that interfere with their academic performance, the school often will intervene and formulate a strategy that will help a child comply with classroom expectations and manage their outward behavior. While this is a desirable end, we understand outward behavior as a symptom of an inner problem.
For example, if a child is having difficulty paying attention, a teacher in a school other than the LDS might seat the child in front of the room where she could make see contact and bring the child back to his/her task. Or, if a child is having difficulty staying in his/her seat, a behavior program might be implemented that would reward the child for staying seated for specific increments of time. The Lucy Daniels School helps children to not only meet the expectations of a classroom, but also reach their fullest learning and social potential by working from the inside to build new emotional abilities and capacities. Rather than put a child in front of the room or provide rewards for behavior, we embark on the more difficult and more rewarding road of helping the child discover why he has difficulty paying attention or sitting in his/her seat, ultimately assisting the child to develop new controls within him/herself.
We help children find their internal rewards based on their own wishes to be competent and kind. When achieved, this change is permanent and sustainable and based on authentic humanistic values. Furthermore, with this type of help, children become less reliant on the environment to make special modifications – a strategy that often becomes more difficult to implement as time goes on and children have to cope in a school and world that does not accommodate to him/her.
Are psychoactive medications used?
Although evaluation for medication is part of every initial and ongoing assessment, we take a very conservative approach to medication, understanding that it generally offers only suppression of symptoms. Our goal at Lucy Daniels Center is to overcome rather than suppress symptoms. We are cautious about using medications because we are concerned about some of the known and unknown risks of using psychoactive medications with children. However, there are certainly circumstances in which we feel it is humane and wise to recommend medication. When we do use medications, we prescribe them as sparingly and for the shortest period of time possible, and of course manage the medications as part of our holistic, integrated care.
What does “wrap-around” service refer to?
The Lucy Daniels School provides wrap-around comprehensive care. Wrap-around service refers to our broad commitment to serve each child within the full context of their academic achievement, their internal world, and their family constellation. It means that Lucy Daniels School and Center is a one-stop-shop, where, on an individually determined basis, a child receives his education, parents receive counseling, and the child receives all other necessary therapies for their emotional and social health on-site. For example, many children in our elementary school are engaged in a personal therapy with one of our staff therapists. These meetings typically occur during the school day, or immediately following school dismissal. Finally, it means that all components of care are tightly integrated through the ongoing communication we have among our staff about each child, sometimes daily, with the goal that nothing falls through the cracks. The entire clinical and educational team meets weekly to discuss every child’s functioning and progress in the program. Parents of children in our school meet each week with a parent therapist with an emphasis on supporting the parent-child relationship and fostering the child’s emotional functioning at home.
What is the student-teacher ratio in the school?
The ratio in our preschool, kindergarten and first grade is generally between 1:3 and 1:4. The ratio in our second/third grade class and our anticipated fourth/fifth grade class is generally between 1:4 and 1:5.
Can children join a classroom during the academic year?
We accept children into our program through the year in accordance with space availability.
What is the process of deciding about the suitability of the Lucy Daniels School for my child?
Typically, our first step is to have a meeting between parent(s) and one of our senior staff clinicians. On the basis of what we learn in this meeting, we advise parents about how we would go about determining their child’s needs. This assessment process will always include our learning a great deal about the child’s developmental history and his/her family structure. We will meet with each child for two or more play-based sessions, typically with a parent present for children five and under. If a child is in a school program, we will likely visit and observe, particularly if the child is in preschool or kindergarten. Finally, there are some situations in which specific psychological tests will provide important information, and we would have our psychologists administer these tests. We can usually accomplish this assessment within a month. We then discuss our evaluation with parents once we are in a position to provide expert advice about the best approach to help their child learn and grow emotionally and socially. If the Lucy Daniels School with its associated services from the Center is not the ideal approach, the Center usually can provide our recommended treatment approach. In those rare situations in which we do not offer the approach that we recommend, we help families access that resource in the community.
What is the curricular approach of the Lucy Daniels School?
The Lucy Daniels School offers an unparalleled integrated social, emotional, and academic curriculum. At the core of our curriculum is the relationship between teacher and child as well as the understanding of each child’s experience as a member of a classroom community. As each child becomes well known and understood by his/her teachers, his/her individual needs and strengths inform the method and style of the teaching.
The foundation of the curriculum in the preschool and kindergarten classrooms is focused and individualized attention to each child’s social and emotional development. Preschool and kindergarten children learn about the joys and rewards of joining a group of peers and teachers who embark on journeys of exploration, experimentation, observation, and collaboration. Our pre-k and kindergarten carry a 5 star rating and are accredited by NAEYC.
Our elementary school offers a robust academic program based on the Core Standards in a classroom environment sensitive to the emotional needs of the child. Children meet regularly with an onsite clinician in our Family Guidance Service who can further explore with them their individual issues and difficulties. STEM activities as well as the arts, Spanish, PE, and music all complement the elementary school program. Lucy Daniels School is licensed by the NC Department of Non-Public Education.
What are the fees for the Lucy Daniels School?
It is expensive to provide our comprehensive and individualized service, but it is just this attention to all details that make our assistance so effective. There is a great range in the financial obligations for families because of difference in our fees for different grades, varying amounts of reimbursements from health insurance, and the substantial scholarship support that we provide to many families. We and our families generally find a way to make it work mutually when it is the right thing to do. We are happy to discuss these fees in more specifically with parents.