Communication Sciences and Disorders

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is eligible for the program?

    Children eligible for Program Unit Funding (PUF) from Alberta Education are eligible to become program children in CHEEP. To qualify for PUF a child must be between 3 years old (by December 31) and 5 years 11 months old by September 1, and have 1 documented severe delay/disorder (or two or more moderate delays/disorders in non-associated areas of development). As CHEEP only provides preschool, eligible children must be between 2 years, 8 months old and 4 ½ years old by September 1. Children may attend for a maximum of 2 years, if they continue to qualify for PUF in the second year. CHEEP supports parents in choosing the most appropriate programming option for Kindergarten (year 3), and works with families and receiving schools to make the transition as smooth as possible for children.

    Children must be 3-years-old on September 1 to become community children in CHEEP. Community children are developing typically and are toilet trained. These young children provide peer models of speech, language, social skills, behavior, problem-solving skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self-helps skills and preschool skills for the children in the classroom with special needs. Community children initially attend on a trial basis to ensure they are ready for the challenges of preschool. If concerns arise regarding a community child’s development CHEEP staff members will discuss this with the parents and support the family in finding access to assessment, as well as programming options.

  • Is there a waiting list for CHEEP?

    CHEEP begins a waiting list for both program children and community children in January for the school year beginning the following September. As CHEEP is a very small program, serving only 14 program and six community children each school year, we encourage families to explore a variety of programming options for their child. It is prudent to put a child’s name on a number of waiting lists to secure a spot in a program that complements the parents’ priorities for preschool and philosophy of early learning.

  • How many classes does CHEEP operate?

    There are two classes operating each school year (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).

  • What are the hours?

    Each class operates three hours per day, Tuesday through Friday, from September through June. There is no class on Mondays which is reserved for home visits and staff team meetings.

    • The morning class runs from 8:25 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    • The afternoon class runs from 12:25 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    • Home visits are provided on Mondays throughout the year (90 minutes each).
  • Where is the program located?

    CHEEP operates out of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (formerly known as the Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology) at the University of Alberta. The preschool classroom is located in Corbett Hall on the south end of campus (just north of University Avenue between 114 Street and 112 Street).

  • Who works on the CHEEP team?

    CHEEP employs a team of professionals including the following:

    • Program Coordinator - part time
    • Certified Teacher – full time in the classroom
    • Speech-Language Pathologist – full time in the classroom
    • Therapist Assistant – full time in the classroom
    • Occupational Therapist – one day each week in the classroom
    • Physical Therapist – part of a day each week in the classroom
    • Faculty Advisor – as needed
    • Administrative Assistant – as needed

    All CHEEP staff members are required to submit a Criminal Record Check (signed by a police officer) and a Child Welfare Record Check (signed by an official at Alberta Children’s Services) when they are employed and every three years thereafter.

    CHEEP staff members who work directly with the children understand that children learn at individual rates and have varying learning styles. The staff members are knowledgeable in the areas of child development, positive classroom management strategies, appropriate teaching and intervention strategies to facilitate learning, and motivating and developmentally appropriate activities. CHEEP staff work on an inter-disciplinary team, learning from other professionals and teaching others about their area of expertise. Working on a team permits staff to integrate information from a variety of perspectives, and best meet the unique needs of each child.

  • What does a CHEEP class look like?

    Each class includes seven children with special needs (program children) and three children who are typically developing (community children). The teacher, SLP and therapist assistant work full-time in the program. The occupational therapist spends one day per week working in the program and the physical therapists spends part of one day per week working in the program. The OT and PT both provide a combination of direct and indirect intervention to children with motor/sensory challenges. Speech-language pathology students frequently do placements in the program.

  • What kinds of activities do the children engage in?
    • Structured learning times (circle time, small group) to build language skills, preschool skills and social skills.
    • Less structured play opportunities (centre time) to allow exploration of own interests and choice making in a variety of play centres (dramatic play, manipulative centre, sensory centre, games, construction, book sharing, etc.).
    • A predictable classroom routine to enhance comprehension, reduce anxiety and prevent negative behaviours.
    • Daily gym/gross motor activities to build and enhance gross motor development.
    • Art time twice weekly to build and refine fine motor skills and expand sensory experiences.
    • Snack time daily including a weekly collaborative cooking project.
    • Daily exposure to early literacy experiences.
    • Weekly music and movement experiences.
    • Out-of-class speech-language therapy time (‘Small Class’) during selected times of the school year.
    • Field trips to solidify and extend classroom learning.
  • What are the program costs?
    • The program is free for children accessing Program Unit Funding (program children).
    • The program costs $1000 per year for community children (who access no funding from Alberta Education). This fee helps to cover costs associated with supplies/materials used by the child during the school year, as well as field trip costs.
    • All parents are responsible to provide a snack for their child once a week and a snack for the class once a month.
  • Does CHEEP offer Kindergarten?

    CHEEP is a preschool program and does not offer Kindergarten programming. The CHEEP team support families of children who have used two years of Program Unit Funding and/or are five years old on September 1 to select an appropriate Kindergarten program. CHEEP staff members endeavour to ensure the transition to Kindergarten is as smooth as possible.

  • Does CHEEP offer bus service to school?

    Unfortunately CHEEP is not able to offer bus service to and from school. This is due to the small number of children attending each class and the fact that children participating in CHEEP live in all areas of Edmonton. Parents are responsible to coordinate transportation to and from school for their child. Bus and LRT service to the University of Alberta is excellent. Parents of program children are eligible for transportation funding (as available through Alberta Education).

  • Where do parents park when they drop off and pick up their child from CHEEP?

    Parents of program children and community children are able to purchase a CHEEP loading zone permit, at a small cost (purchased from the University of Alberta, through CHEEP staff). This permit allows parents/caregivers minutes at arrival time and thirty minutes at dismissal time to park their vehicles in the parking lot adjacent to Corbett Hall (parking lot L) so they may safely drop off/pick up their children from CHEEP. The loading zone permit is operational between September and June. Parents who plan to join the class for a special activity, field trip, etc. are advised to purchase a day parking pass from the Parking Services dispenser.

  • How do CHEEP team members communicate with parents?

    Open and frequent communication with parents is a priority for CHEEP staff members. The following means are used to facilitate communication between school and home:

    • Monthly newsletter
    • Home-school communication folder
    • Informal conversations during drop-off and pick-up of children
    • Guided observations of classroom
    • Home visits
    • School visits
    • IPP meetings (required in September and June; optional in February)
    • Option to participate in/observe out-of-class therapy sessions with SLP students
    • Option to volunteer in classroom on selected days
  • What is an Individual Program Plan (IPP)?

    The IPP is a formal document written for each child accessing Program Unit Funding from Alberta Education. The inter-disciplinary team, including parents, begins writing the IPP in September. This document identifies the child’s educational team, outlines the child’s areas of strength, and indicates goals for the school year (general long term goals and specific short term goals) in the applicable developmental areas (fine motor, gross motor, communication, cognition, self-help, social/behavior). Parents play an important role in identifying their child’s strengths, in helping to select goals, and in helping the team review children’s progress throughout the year. The IPP is formally reviewed in February and in June. Information in the IPP may be added, or modified as necessary throughout the year.

  • What are Home Visits (Family-Oriented Programming Sessions)?

    Home visits (called Family-Oriented Programming Sessions by Alberta Education) are a required part of programming for children accessing Program Unit Funding. Home visits involve a school staff member, the child and a caregiver and can occur at a variety of locations (home, daycare, community location, etc.). Fourteen 90 minute home visits are designed by the school staff members to focus on the child’s objectives and afford the school specialists the chance to work with the child one-on-one. Home visits provide parents/care-givers with strategies to support the child’s development, and allow the school team members to see activities and strategies used in other settings which support the child’s growth. Home visits are typically scheduled with families on Mondays when there is no preschool class. A written report detailing the objectives, activities and observations from the home visit is completed at the end of the visit, and signed by both the parent/care-giver and the CHEEP staff member.

  • What are School Visits?

    A school visit provides parents with an opportunity to join their child for a special school session. During the visit the child and parent will be paired with staff members from the program and engage in activities related to the child’s goals. Each parent/child dyad will rotate through activities allowing opportunity to focus on several objectives and work with different professionals. Parents may also have the opportunity to communicate with other parents to share information and ideas. Parents have the opportunity to join their child for up to two school visits during the school year. Each school visit will be three hours in length and count towards the required 14 visits.

  • What is ‘Out-of-class Treatment’ (‘Small Class’)?

    Direct speech-language therapy time is scheduled once or twice a week, during selected times of the school year, for children requiring individual or small group (2-3 children) intervention for speech and/or language delays. Therapy sessions are led by Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) students, who are supervised by experienced SLPs employed by the University of Alberta. The direct therapy team will collaborate with the classroom staff to ensure goals and activities coordinate with children’s learning in the classroom and home programs. Direct therapy time offers children opportunities to learn and practice new skills in a one-on-one or small group teaching situation, better preparing them to use the new skills functionally in the preschool classroom and other typical environments.

  • Do children participate in field trips?

    Several field trips will be planned throughout the school year, coordinating with classroom learning (related to theme and literature of focus). Field trips provide an excellent opportunity for children to extend their learning, and practice newly learned skills and knowledge in novel but functional situations. Field trips can also help to make some abstract concepts more concrete for children, and often offer opportunities for hands-on learning. Extensive supervision is required on field trips to ensure safety. Parents will be provided with advance notice of upcoming field trips and will be asked to fill out a legal permission form permitting their child to participate. Field trips will be limited to activities within the city of Edmonton and its surrounding communities, and no over-night trips are planned. CHEEP staff take many precautions when taking children on a field trip, including: the accompaniment of at least one staff member with up-to-date first aid/CPR certification, carrying a first aid kit, taking a copy of the medical/emergency information for each child, frequent checks to ensure everyone is present, and carefully making specific arrangements for transportation, timing of activities, etc.