Children Who Can Create Learning Difficulties Get Assistance
by Ellyce Field, The
Detroit News, January 22, 2004
Installing “kindergarten cops” in all kindergarten classrooms is not Donna
Lackie’s idea of the best way to handle children who hit, scream, spit or
generally act disruptive.
“Believe it or not, that’s one method of handling disruptive children in
Texas classrooms,” says Lackie, early childhood consultant with Oakland
Instead, Lackie and her team of early childhood specialists —
pediatricians, teachers and community resources — provide assessment and
preventative interventions for disruptive children, their families and
their preschool settings before those children reach kindergarten.
The free program called Project Challenge began in 1998. “Teachers and
day-care centers were calling and saying ‘We’ve got a child and don’t know
what to do!’ We wondered what the scope of the problem was and how we
could best address it,” Lackie says.
Many other counties in Michigan, as well as across the country, started
looking at how to help small children with behavior challenges.
“We found that approximately 8-10 percent of preschool children across the
country exhibited disruptive behaviors that would lead to compromised
learning and development once the child entered school,” she says. “The
children cut across all socio-economic levels and all settings — informal
home day-care, all the way to very specific special-education classrooms.”
Lackie and her team receive referrals from parents, teachers, day-care
workers or pediatricians. They look for clues in the child’s
developmental, physical, regulatory (sleeping or eating), sensory growth,
temperament and personality. They also assess their home and school
setting. After learning as much as possible about the child, they offer
suggestions for reducing the disruptive behaviors with very individualized
“The bottom line is catching children early and giving them a chance to be
successful in school,” Lackie says.
About the program
What: Project Challenge.
Where: Open to all preschoolers in Oakland County. Counterpart programs
are also available in Macomb and Wayne County. Call for a referral, (248)
When: Support, consultation and intervention is offered to children,
parents, families, teachers and preschool programs.
Information: If a child you know can benefit from this program, call Donna
Lackie at Oakland Schools, (248) 209-2229.