Early Childhood Services (ECSE)


  • ECSE students with disabilities such as developmental delays, communication delays, blindness, hearing impairments, autism, or health impairments are served in the district ECSE. Mercer Island School District offers regularly scheduled, free developmental screenings for children age 3-5 years old. These screenings, called Child Find, provide an opportunity for early childhood professionals to look at your child's development and compare it to other children their age. We can also assist you in arranging for the screening of babies and toddlers under 3 years of age in cooperation with Boyer and Kindering. Contact: Simone Carmel, Coordinator, with questions about ECSE

    The services are designed to provide support to children with a documented disability who reside in the Mercer Island School District attendance area. If your family is living in a temporary situation on Mercer Island you may contact us to attend a screening. Upon referral, the ECSE team will determine if screening or further evaluation is necessary. Services are provided for students that qualify. 


    Who is eligible

    Eligibility is determined by meeting qualifying criteria in at least one of the following areas: communication, cognition, social-emotional, adaptive, and/or motor. Mercer Island School District offers regularly scheduled, free developmental screenings for children age 3-5 years old. These screenings, called ChildFind, provide an opportunity for early childhood professionals to look at your child's development and compare it to other children their age. We can also assist you in arranging for the screening of babies and toddlers under 3 years of age in cooperation with Boyer and Kindering. If your family is living in a temporary situation, you may contact the district where you are staying to attend a screening.  

    Early Childhood Special Education classroom

    ECSE students with disabilities such as developmental delays, communication delays, blindness, hearing impairments, autism, or health impairments are served in the district ECSE.

    Our Approach: We have a multidisciplinary approach with a team consisting of special education teachers, board certified behavior analyst, school psychologist, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and paraprofessionals. The team meets weekly to plan the program, decide on instructional strategies and review how those methods are working. Data collection, review and strategy adjustments are a critical part of our approach.

    Our Methodology: We use a variety of methodologies, incorporating research-based strategies. The setting is also varied ranging from highly structured one-on-one instruction and therapy, to group instruction and activities. This allows for generalization and consistency across environments. Other teaching techniques include using visual schedules and visual communication systems, behavior plans, positive behavior supports as well as a number of other accommodations.

    ECSE Schedule: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. There are no sessions on Wednesdays. The AM session is from 9:30 AM-Noon; The PM session is 12:45 PM - 3:15 PM. ECSE follows the MISD Elementary Calendar for Breaks.


    Extended day program

    The extended day program is for students with an ASD diagnosis who need additional instruction. The program is centered around Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) which is the applied use of behavioral principles to everyday situations with the goal of either increasing or decreasing targeted behaviors. Some components of ABA are discrete trial teaching, programming for generalization to the natural environment, reinforcement, prompting and fading strategies, and data-based decision-making. 

    Extended day schedule: Extended day is run from 11:15-12:45 with a half hour for lunch. After the extended day program, your child will attend his or her early childhood classroom session.


    Peer Mentor Program

    If you are interested in your child participating in our ECSE Peer Mentor program, please contact Simone Carmel, 206- 230-6032.

    Peer mentors are recruited to participate in the program and receive instruction in this general education curriculum alongside ECSE classmates. Parents will receive a trimester report on their child’s development and learning profile. Students with developmental differences benefit from having same age peers without differences as role models. For the role models, it provides a unique opportunity for empathy, making friends, handling social situations, as well as exposure to a general education curriculum. The student gets to be a model citizen, teacher helper, and leader in the classroom.

    There are presently two openings in each session for nondisabled peers to serve as peer mentors to students with disabilities.

    Peer mentors must be children who routinely demonstrate the following age-appropriate skills:

    • Social Skills
    • Behaviors
    • Group play/willingness to include others
    • One on one play/sharing and turn taking
    • Verbal expression in English
    • Gross and Fine motor activities
    • Independence/ability to separate

    Peer mentor openings are available on a first-come, first screened, first accepted basis. We will add your name to a waiting list once openings in both sessions are filled.

    Parents of peer mentors are responsible for transportation to and from the school. 

    Peer mentors are expected to attend all scheduled sessions with the exception of illnesses and family emergencies.


    Child Find

    Mercer Island School District offers regularly scheduled, free developmental screenings for children age 3-5 years old. These screenings, called Child Find, provide an opportunity for early childhood professionals to look at your child's development and compare it to other children their age. We can also assist you in arranging for the screening of babies and toddlers under 3 years of age in cooperation with Boyer and Kindering. 

    Screening schedule 2018-19: October 3November 7December 5February 6March 13April 17, and May 22. Screenings are held at Northwood Elementary from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Wednesday mornings.

    Contact: Simone Carmel, Coordinator, with questions about ECSE.

    MISD ECSE Program video