Welcome to the Ridgefield Public Schools Preschool Program website.

Program Overview

We believe that the instruction provided in preschool impacts our students for the duration of their school career. Therefore, we offer a constellation of programs and services to support the early learning for our youngest students. We strive to provide our preschool students with robust, highly engaging, and specialized programming.

The RPS Preschool Program is an Integrated Special Education Preschool Program located at Barlow Mountain Elementary School (BMES) and consists of a multidisciplinary team of teachers, related service providers, and paraeducators. These individuals are highly trained developmental experts in the field of early childhood education. In addition to our students receiving special education services, we invite students with strong language, social and developmental skills to apply to serve as peer models within our integrated classrooms. Parents of students without special education services who are participating as peer models pay tuition to participate and are responsible for transporting their child to and from the program.

The enrollment in each integrated classroom consists of a combination of children who require special education and peer models. Classes are composed of mixed-age groupings (threes and fours), according to state guidelines for best practice in early childhood education. The curriculum represents a progression of interdisciplinary learning throughout the year. Students develop individual skills and explore new themes and interests through whole group, small group, and individualized instruction, center-based activities, morning meeting, and play. The early learning and developmental standards (ELDS) act as the basis for instruction where problem-solving and discovery are essential components to learning. The program employs a team approach to education. Members of the team are skilled professional educators in the area of early childhood development. Team members include: classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, school psychologist, board certified behavior analysts (BCBA), and nurse.

Peer Model Selection

Peer Model Information

We will consider children for the limited spaces available for peer models based on the following criteria:

  • Your child's successful participation in screening sessions to obtain a general development profile.
  • You must be a Ridgefield resident at the time of the screening.
  • Your child must be three years old by the first day of preschool.
  • Your child cannot be (age) eligible for kindergarten.
  • Your child must be toilet trained by start of preschool.
  • If accepted, you must provide your own round-trip transportation.

We will place children who meet the above qualifications and exhibit strong social and language skills in an applicant pool from which we will make the final selections at random. We will notify parents by email regarding their child’s selection in late spring.

Peer Model Screening/Acceptance Timeline

  • January 2024: Applications are available on the RPS Preschool website.
  • March 2024: Completed application due.
  • March–May 2024: In-person applicant screening sessions.
  • May–June 2024: Decision notification.

    Thank you for your interest in the RPS Preschool Peer Model Program. We are no longer accepting Peer Model applications for the 2024–2025 school year. Please check back in January 2025 for the 2025–2026 application.

    Child Find

    Child Find is a federal mandate that assures that all children who are in need or who are suspected to be in need of early intervention or special education services are located, identified, and referred to the Planning and Placement Team (PPT).

    The Ridgefield Public Schools pre-K team of professionals conducts a Child Find Developmental Screening throughout the year at Barlow Mountain Elementary School for all community children of preschool age (3 to almost 5 years old.) Please see our Child Find Announcement for additional information.

    If you are interested in more information about either of these programs, please reach out to Christina Salvestrini at


    Sparkler is an evidence-based, mobile family engagement platform available in English and Spanish which is working with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and 211 Child Development to help all Connecticut families of 0 to 5 year olds.

    Sparkler offers:

    • Tracking tools designed to monitor children’s social-emotional, cognitive, communication, and physical development, including the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®.
    • Content that helps parents/caregivers support their children’s learning and development. Sparkler has a library of 1500+ play-based learning activities developed by early childhood educators and is adding more all the time.
    • Messaging tools to give parents/caregivers advice and support.

    Please visit Connecticut's Play Sparkler page to learn more.

    Sparkler logo