The Need for TSTP
In most schools, teachers are asked to address the individual learning needs of all of their students without adequate support and assistance. Many teachers do not have expertise with research-proven practices from multiple disciplines, including psychology, developmental learning, and brain development.
These rich and varied disciplines have become increasingly important as schools receive more and more children lacking the foundational prerequisites to benefit from formal instruction and academic success. Many factors have contributed to this phenomenon, including:
- Advances in medical science resulting in more children with serious neurological and/or physical conditions being rescued;
- Lack of outside active play opportunities resulting in underdeveloped gross motor skills for children;
- Children spending large amounts of time being passively entertained by television and video games without intellectual interaction;
- The pace of American family life often leaves limited time for family interaction including activities such as reading to and with children;
- Diminishing lack of safe community and neighborhood environments limiting children?s exploration and interaction with the larger world; and
- Proliferation of single, primarily female-headed households and the increasing numbers of young children living in poverty, lacking adequate basic needs (food, clothing, and medical care).
Unfortunately, many of the children facing the above-listed situations are erroneously determined to be in need of special education services. Too often, these children are not developmentally handicapped; instead, they have underlying problems with motor, sensory or language development. This program seeks to address the underlying challenges being experienced by these children so that learning can begin to occur.
Despite the growing need for more attention to the developmental and learning challenges being faced by U.S. children, our current outmoded system of education actually results in less notice of these elements. Our schools ask general education teachers to accomplish, by themselves: (a) an accurate, immediate assessment of the learning challenges being faced by as many as thirty individual children from diverse backgrounds, (b) the development of individualized education plans that expertly address these learning challenges, and (c) the implementation of effective instructional strategies that take as many as thirty individualized education plans into account. This is an impossible task that results in many fully functional school children being classified as "special ed" or, even worse, fails to meet their unique developmental needs or address their distinctive learning styles.
TSTP recognizes the enormity of this task and provides a valuable working alternative: a team approach to assessment and instruction that permits teachers to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of myriad staff specialists within a school. Teachers will become more confident they are providing sound instruction and fully meeting the needs of the children they serve. In addition, children who have unique developmental needs and approaches to learning will receive the attention they deserve without labeled or isolated from their peers in the mainstream classroom. Perhaps most importantly, however, the learning challenges each of these students face can also be addressed as quickly as possible, resulting in greatly improved academic performance.