Early Childhood

The Early Childhood (EC) program provides special education and related services at no cost for children ages 3-5 with identified special needs.

Eligible students participate in the EC program alongside typical peers from the community and the district’s Edu-Care program. Eligibility for early childhood special education services is determined by the Carmel Early Childhood Assessment Team using a multidisciplinary approach.

Students in our developmental preschool program have access to speech, occupational, and physical therapists as deemed necessary in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Therapists are able to push in to the early childhood classroom to work with students in their natural environment and ensure they are able to access all areas of the classroom and playground. In addition, the therapists work closely with the classroom staff to ensure areas of fine motor, gross motor, speech, and language are embedded throughout the week.

The Early Childhood Speech and Language Pathologists offer a "speech only" evaluation for those families that are only concerned with their child's speech development. Students who qualify receive walk-in speech therapy as determined by the IEP.

If you feel the Early Childhood program may be right for your student, please contact the EC Coordinator, Mary Podany.

Early Childhood


  • Cherry Tree Elementary

  • Clay Center Elementary
  • Forest Dale Elementary
  • Smoky Row Elementary
  • Woodbrook Elementary

Class Times:

Preschool (Ages 3-4)

7:40 am - 10:20 am

Pre-K (Ages 4-5)

11:50 am - 2:25 pm

Peer Friends Program

Typical peers help to strengthen our program by acting as peer models in the areas of oral language, social skills, and behavior. Peers are fully integrated members of the class and provided a research based preschool curriculum. 

The Peer Friends pogram welcomes children ages 3-5 who are already comfortable in a school environment. Students must reside with the Carmel Clay Schools boundaries and transportation is not provided.

Peer Friends are "typically-developing" peers who join our classrooms to promote positive communication and relationships and have fun! CCS will accept applications until the program has reached capacity. 

peer friends Applications

Contact Us

Mary Podany

Mary Podany


Focus on the Whole Child


We recognize that each child is a unique person with an individual pattern of developmental timing and growth. Factors such as personality, learning style, life experiences, and family background work together to shape each child into a unique and valued member of the classroom community, where cooperation and acceptance are the norm.

Developmentally Appropriate


A developmentally appropriate program is child-centered; teachers and therapists make decisions and provide support according to what is best for each individual child. In the classroom, an integrative, child-focused approach is used to address physical, emotional, social, communicative, and cognitive development for every learner.

Active, Meaningful Learning


Young children learn most effectively through a concrete, play-oriented approach. Their learning and development occur throughout daily activities and routines that are meaningful and engaging. Emphasis is placed on activities that encourage self-directed play and active exploration.