Close Student-Faculty Interaction

Professor Loraine Spenciner Advising Her StudentAt UMF, faculty and students develop close relationships. This often begins when first-year students meet their academic advisors to discuss classes that they would like to take. In this picture, Brittney  discusses some of the many choices with Professor Loraine Spenciner.



Hands-on Learning

In the parent-child playgroup (practicum),  Professor Dolores Appl works with student playgroup facilitators and caregivers to develop a plan with goals and objectives that address family concerns. One family had concerns about their child’s speech and language development, as well as their need for quality child care. The team identified ways to work on these goals and objectives during parent-child playgroups.

Tea party For example, one of the child’s speech and language objectives was to initiate conversations by asking questions. To address this objective, the team planned various activities across multiple playgroup sessions in which all families could participate. Some examples included Salad-spinner Painting, Kool-Aid Painting, and a Tea Party. All of these activities were of high interest to the children and provided many opportunities for them to ask questions, such as “Want some tea?”


Hands-on learning can happen in many ways! Faculty may employ students through grants or monies from other initiatives. This allows students to increase their professional knowledge and expertise while earning money. One example of a real work opportunity is to become an assistive technology student specialist. These students work with early childhood special education faculty member Loraine Spenciner and UMF’s Assistive Technology Collection.

Elephant switch toy assistive technologyWorking with the AT materials has helped me in so many ways! I have learned about a variety of materials used to assist an individual in some way. Being an Early Childhood Special Education major, this has helped my coursework tremendously. I am able to see and use materials that are talked about in my classes and research. It has also helped me to be able to think outside the box. There are so many materials that can be used in a variety of ways, and it seems that if you think hard enough that you can find a material to help any individual or situation. (Sarah, ECSE major and AT student specialist).



Student-Faculty Collaboration

Art activityStudent facilitators and their faculty mentor collaborate to plan, implement, and evaluate the parent-child playgroups based on the PIWI model (Parents Interacting With Infants) that are offered at UMF. One week the team planned a topic on “How I (child) show my creativity” to encourage parents to observe and support their children’s artistic abilities. Before families arrived, the team set up the environment, including this finger painting activity.


Child painting The activity also integrated literacy by displaying excerpts from a book about mixing  colors. When families arrived, the student facilitators explained the topic for the evening and then the fun began. This child certainly showed his creativity!


SnackAfter about 45 minutes of parent-child play, the group ended with a snack during which this child continued to show creativity, closing discussion, and songs.


BubblesThe “bubble” song was a big favorite with this child.


Clean upAfter the families departed, the team cleaned the toys and the environment, which had been arranged to promote creative play.


Student observingThen they debriefed by sharing the observations they made during the playgroup.


Time to relaxNext, they considered ideas for the following playgroup, based on their observations and parents’ input. Of course, there was time for the team to relax and have some fun!


I have had many exciting experiences at UMF. I have also built meaningful relationships with the professors in the department that will last a lifetime. Thanks to the Early Childhood Special Education program and experiences that it has provided me, I feel prepared to go out into the professional world as a highly qualified and experienced ECSE educator. Get ready for the time of your life!


Outside the Classroom


ECS 374 Students on Field TripField trips are not just for kindergarteners! In ECS 374, a group of early childhood special education students and their professor traveled to the State House in Augusta. Here they participated in a rally to support services for children and their families. Afterwards, students had the opportunity to meet with several state legislators to discuss their ideas and recommendations. Activities such as these help prepare UMF students to learn more about critical issues and to become future advocates!


Task Force walkEarly Childhood Special Education students and faculty enjoyed a brisk fall day as they joined together to show their support for a local agency. They walked as a group wearing their program t-shirts to make a difference for children and families!



The Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Program here at UMF is not only a part of an amazing learning community, but part of a family. This family of ECSE has grown and developed through classes, practicum, and the everyday experiences that mold future educators into informed professionals. (Chantalle, ECSE major).


Note: All UMF children’s programs are inclusive in that they include children from diverse backgrounds and with diverse abilities. Photos on this website are not meant to imply that children have disabilities. In fact, most disabilities are not visible. Our belief is that children are children first whether or not they have a disability.