Mission to Transition

We educate bright students with learning disabilities in order to prepare them for successful transitions to mainstream public, private, or parochial schools in their home communities.

The Hyde Park Day School Approach

We believe that the complex nature of significant learning disabilities requires a program that focuses on the remediation of fundamental skills, the development of strategies to compensate for learning challenges and the use of appropriate accommodations.

This is accomplished through:

  • A low student-to-teacher ratio
  • A state-of-the-art technology program
  • An integrated services approach
  • Highly talented staff, all with a comprehensive professional development program
  • A safe, nurturing environment designed to build self-esteem, self-confidence, and a genuine interest in learning

Our Integrated Service Model

HPDS offers an integrated and student-driven curriculum that features specialists working alongside educators to serve every student. In addition to the therapeutic services offered by the Integrated Services (IS) team of social workers, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists, every student has the opportunity to participate in specialized lessons taught by a specialist from each discipline in collaboration with classroom teachers.

The purpose of the Integrated Services in the Classroom (ISC) lessons is multifold.  The lessons extend the reach of social-emotional, language, motor, and sensory regulatory support into the classroom, reinforcing generalization and enriching the learning experience of all students.  In addition, the frequency and intensity of contact for those students receiving therapy services increases.

Hyde Park Day School social workers lead weekly classroom lessons that support every student’s growth on personal, academic, and social levels. 

The lessons are multi-sensory and may include direct teaching and discussions, as well as role-playing or trips into the larger community. The social worker helps students to examine their own learning, interaction, and coping styles through exploration of the Success Attributes, a research-based program focused on six critical attributes related to success:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Perseverance
  3. Pro-activity
  4. Goal-setting
  5. Emotional coping strategies
  6. The effective use of support systems

In addition, students examine their own impact on the culture and climate of HPDS. Students plan and conduct an anti-bullying program at the beginning of the school year, which is followed by everyone all year. The social worker may also work with students on organizing and completing community service projects throughout the year. A culture and climate of acceptance and success is built through development of a common language that is reinforced for students each day by all the adults in the building.

Speech and language pathologists at Hyde Park Day School strive to develop and strengthen the students’ ability to use concept imagery, leading to improved receptive (reading, oral language comprehension) and expressive (oral and written) language. 

HPDS therapists present classroom lessons based on the Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language and Comprehension and Thinking® program (V/V®), developed by Nanci Bell. V/V® is integrated into the curriculum in Northfield through weekly 30 minute lessons in students’ reading groups. On both campuses, the program is taught in collaboration with classroom teachers, so the concepts can be reinforced and used by teachers in language arts and other content areas (such as social studies and science). 

The V/V® program is based on the premise that visualization is directly related to strong language comprehension, language expression, and critical thinking. The ability to image the “gestalt” or main idea is central to the process of V/V® and is a critical skill underlying language and reading comprehension. The V/V® process contains twelve steps, leading to the development of higher order thinking skills (recall, conclusion, inference, prediction, analysis, application, evaluation, and synthesis). The V/V® program’s “structure words,” which help establish visualization and organize vocabulary and ideas, are featured in these lessons and are reinforced throughout the school day in the classroom.

The Occupational Therapist teaches two programs at Hyde Park Day School.   

How Does Your Engine Run? (also known as the Alert Program) is one of the programs directly taught by the occupational therapist in collaboration with the classroom teachers. These concepts can be used within the classroom to help students gain functional independence and academic achievement within the school environment through supporting their sensory, motor, and visual perceptual skills. The Alert Program is used to support students in managing their sensory regulation and attention skills by teaching them to use sensory, motor, and cognitive strategies.

The Handwriting Without Tears program is the other program taught by the occupational therapist. This program is used to help students learn the formation and placement of cursive and manuscript letters, as well as to improve legibility. Fine motor, tactile modalities, visual motor control, and visual perceptual activities are taught in conjunction with the handwriting program to further facilitate students’ handwriting skills.

When Hyde Park Day School students return to their home school communities, they are faced not only with a variety of academic demands, but also a multitude of environmental, time management, and organizational demands. 

In order to adequately prepare students to be successful in mainstream schools and later life, HPDS has also made the instruction of executive functioning a large part of each child’s curriculum. Executive functioning can be defined as the ability to size up a situation, plan for necessary actions, carry out those actions with as efficiently and with as few distractions as possible, and assess one’s own performance to improve later problem solving attempts.

Hyde Park Day School models and instructs executive functioning in three broad areas:

  1. Environmental: Our environment is structured to allow students to develop organizational and time management skills critical to a successful transition. Instructors use a variety of instructional strategies and environmental supports to explicitly teach students to effectively manage classroom domains.
  2. Personal: Students are taught to accurately evaluate task demands, determine efficient and effective strategies for meeting the demand and criteria for evaluating the success of those strategies. The goal is for students to anticipate the demands of a task or assignment before they begin it.
  3. Technological: Students are taught to use technology not only as an instructional tool, but also as a “toolbox” in which to store effective strategies or accommodations. Since 2008, HPDS has been a “One-to-One” school in which every child has a computer to use and most own their own tablet.

Data from a study conducted by Blair and Razza (Blair & Razza, 2007) revealed that executive functioning skills are more important for school readiness than are I.Q. or entry-level reading or math. HPDS firmly believes that in order to best prepare students for transition back to their home school communities, a student’s organization, time management, and problem solving skills need to be built much in the same way their reading and writing skills are built.

Transition Process

Over the last nineteen years we have worked with more 500 families, and have successfully helped 484 students transition. While a Transition Specialist directs and coordinates this transition out of HPDS, it is a collaborative process that includes parents, teachers, administrators, and most importantly, students.

We consider parents important partners who actively participate in researching prospective schools and crafting the transition plan. At HPDS, transition begins as soon as a child enters the program. The transition specialist works with school personnel and families to discuss readiness for transition, to identify schools, to investigate schools, and to complete any steps necessary from HPDS to complete each student’s admissions process to a receiving school. Readiness is determined through a team approach in which a student’s academic performance, organization and time management skills, and self-awareness and self-advocacy skills are examined. The transition specialist assists parents in identifying appropriate options for a child’s learning style and needs. This procedure can include visiting schools and connecting with appropriate school personnel at potential receiving schools.

Listen to the 2019 Transition Parent Webinar here

Quantifying Our Success

To quantify how successfully our students re-entered the traditional school environment, we have conducted follow-up research with families one year after they have transitioned out of Hyde Park Day School for the last ten years. Here are some key findings: 
  • Parents overwhelmingly praised the school’s supportive environment and its effect on their children’s progress.
  • Of 142 parents surveyed, 98% reported that HPDS “met,” “exceeded,” or “far exceeded” expectations (Research Pros).
  • The vast majority of students are doing well academically after transitioning.
  • The most progress was made in reading, written language, organization, acceptance of one’s LD, and self-advocacy.
  • Parents praised the transition process– teachers were engaged, information was well provided, and plans were helpful.

Are you ready to get started?

Please contact HPDS directly at 847.446.7025. We look forward to assisting you in determining the best educational placement for your child.

Does Hyde Park Day School feel like a great fit for your child?