Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we have included frequently asked questions about the center, child development, behavior, and more. We hope you find this information helpful. If we can assist in another way, please contact us.

Center Information

Q: Is Partners In Learning licensed?

Yes! We are a 5-star NAEYC accredited facility, the only one in Rowan County.

Q: Can I stop in anytime and have a look around?

Partners In Learning has an open-door policy, and potential families are always welcome to drop in to receive additional information about our programs. However, we encourage you to call and schedule a tour of our facility.

Q: What is the child-to-adult ratio?

Partners In Learning is the only 5-star, Nationally Accredited program in Rowan County that serves children 6 weeks through 5 years. In order to achieve these honors, we must have highly trained staff, meet very stringent program standards verified by outside observers, and have lower staff to child ratios. Therefore, our child to staff ratios are less than the state ratio requirement. This ensures that we are taking care of each child and meeting their developmental needs.


Age GroupsState Ratio RequirementPIL RatioGroup Size
Infants5 children to 1 adult4 children to 1 adult8 Children
Toddlers5 children to 1 adult4 children to 1 adult10 Children
2 Year Olds10 children to 1 adult7 children to 1 adult13 Children
3 Year Olds15 children to 1 adult7 children to 1 adult15 Children
4 Year Olds20 children to 1 adult8 children to 1 adult15 Children 8 NC Pre-K
Afterschool25 children to 1 adult14 children to 1 adult20 Children


Q: Why isn’t punishment an effective behavior guidance strategy?

Punishment is a penalty for wrongdoing, imposed on purpose by someone in power who intends it to be unpleasant (Coloroso, 1995). It may come in the form of reprimands (e.g., no hitting) or mild punishments (e.g., time out) following the form (e.g., hit) of the behavior. Little time or attention may be given to observing behaviors, particularly the events and information surrounding behaviors.

Research has shown that these punishment approaches may be effective temporarily but, in the long-term have negative effects on children (Sobsey, 1990). One long-term effect of punishment is that it could cause the child to have a negative relationship with the person who delivers the punisher. A second negative effect of punishment is that it could cause the child to act out the behavior on other children. A third negative effect of punishment is that it can cause the behavior to increase rather than decrease.

As researchers learned about the negative effects of punishment, they began studying alternative approaches to behavior guidance. This new research has suggested that practitioners should attend to outcomes of children’s behavior rather than forms of behavior. Thus, form is what behaviors look like, and outcomes are what behaviors get. For example, Suzie hits her friend Tom in housekeeping. Tom begins to cry and leaves the housekeeping area. In this example, hitting is the form, and Tom crying and leaving housekeeping are the outcomes or payoffs of the behavior.

Q: What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, as defined by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning. Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder may include frequent temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults, active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules, deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people, blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior, often being touchy or easily annoyed by others, frequent anger and resentment, mean and hateful talking when upset, and seeking revenge. The symptoms are generally seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home or at school. There is no known cause of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, but biological and environmental factors may play a role.

In order for a child to be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, the pattern of behaviors must persist for at least 6 months, extend beyond the expectations of normal childhood misbehavior, and result in significant social or academic problems. Oppositional Defiant Disorder can coexist with other disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Treatment plans for children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder may include individual psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, social skills training, and parent training programs. Medications may be of assistance if the behaviors coexist with another condition.

Q: What is Challenging behavior?

Challenging behavior can be defined as actions produced by a child that result in self-injury or injury of others, cause damage to the physical environment, interfere with the acquisition of new skills, and/or socially isolate the child (Doss & Reichle, 1991).

Challenging behaviors may take many forms. Included are:

  • self-injurious behavior such as scratching, biting, head banging, punching, face slapping, pinching, etc.
  • aggression such as hitting, scratching, kicking, biting, and pinching others; and knocking over objects
  • tantrums such as persistent crying, loud vocalizations, screaming, and whining
  • social avoidance such as looking away and leaving group activities
  • self-stimulatory behavior such as body rocking, and hand flapping

Challenging behaviors can range in severity from mild to very significant behaviors that are disruptive or cause harm to the child or others. Challenging behaviors also serve a number of purposes. It is important to know what function the behavior serves.

Q: What is bullying?

According to Kaiser and Rasminsky (2003), bullying is a special form of aggressive behavior. According to Olweus, a person is being bullied when she or he is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons. Bullying can take several forms, including physical abuse, verbal bullying, relational bullying, as well as direct or indirect bullying. It usually takes place out of the site of grownups, although it may also occur right in a classroom when a teacher is present. Bullying is a learned behavior and may be unlearned and even prevented. (Kaiser, Raminsky, 2003). Resources on bullying may be found at

Q: How can I support a child who doesn’t play?

Play problems can occur for many possible reasons. A child may have a lack of skills due to a diagnosed special need. Lack of positive play experience may also be a factor that contributes to the existence of a play difficulty. A child may have a lack of confidence in social situations due to past unsuccessful interactions and therefore no appropriate experiences on which to build new productive play skills.

Play Intervention Strategies:

  • Use materials and activities to assist the child in play situations.
  • Find a favorite toy or theme and incorporate it into play through activities and toys or equipment.
  • Give the child a new or extra exciting item and have them introduce it to the group or be the first one to play with the item. The item should be interactive, encouraging social connectedness and interactions.
  • Set up the environment for success by placing toys and materials at the child’s level for easy access. Place favorite items near the child or place the child in an area that will create the greatest success. For example, have the child who needs sensory experiences begin play at the sand table with some new strainers or funnels.


Peer Interaction

  • Orchestrate successful experiences through peer play combinations.
  • Pair a child with a peer who is a positive model, using appropriate play skills and patience.
  • Assign play groups. Decide and plan which children should be together.
  • Find peers with similar interests and set up an activity centered on that interest.

The caregiver will play a major support role in the play and interactions of the child with play difficulties.

Direct: Set up the situation for success by directing play activities, games or activities that require adult direction and support. This will give the child immediate reinforcement for positive interaction by giving the child a script to follow verbally and the support of a caring adult. The adult will be available for feedback and redirection when things seem to be falling apart or to point out positive choices and outcomes which will build skills and confidence for the child.

Indirect: Shadowing a child during play is an easy way to monitor the interaction but not take over. This is a wonderful way for a child to gain confidence and experience success in play, feeling more independent but not feeling overwhelmed.

A caregiver is there to assist with communication and next step suggestions if necessary. This can be done through simply whispering suggestions, using physical touch to direct the child, subtly redirecting the play without completely stepping in to the interaction. Once the support is given, the caregiver steps back and allows the child to take the lead.

Development and Inclusion

Q: What is meant by inclusion?

The Council for Exceptional Children states that inclusion as a value, supports the right of all children, regardless of their diverse abilities, to participate actively in natural settings within their communities. Inclusion is characterized by a feeling of belonging, not by mere proximity, as in mainstreaming, but in children of all abilities learning, playing, and working together. With successful inclusion, all children are actively involved, physically accessing play and work locations, and have options from which they can choose personally. Inclusion is a process, not a placement.

Q: What is respite care?

Respite Care is short-term relief for the primary caregiver of an individual who has a disability. The purpose of respite care is to provide caregivers with an opportunity to take a break from the intensive demands of their daily caregiving responsibilities to enable them to continue to provide on-going care in the home. The type, amount, and duration of service is predetermined and approved by the county of residence. Respite care services may be provided in the client’s home or in a contracted center-based setting.

Q: What is a neuropsychological evaluation?

A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive and behavioral functions using a set of standardized tests and procedures. Mental functions that are tested include, but are not limited to: intelligence, problem solving and conceptualization, planning and organization, attention, memory, learning; language, academic skills, perceptual and motor abilities, emotions, behavior, and personality. A neuropsychological evaluation is done by a psychologist who has specialized training and experience in the field of neuropsychology.

Q: What is the purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation?

Neuropsychological evaluations are recommended when impairment in cognitive functioning or behavior is suspected to be brain-based. This type of evaluation is used to rule out conditions such as traumatic brain injury, strokes, developmental learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, psychiatric or neuropsychiatric disorders, seizure disorders, medical illness, the effects of toxic chemicals or chronic substance abuse, and conditions that cause dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease. The results of a neurological evaluation can be used to confirm and clarify a diagnosis; provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide planning for educational, vocational, or rehabilitation services; document changes in functioning since prior evaluations; assess the effects of treatment received since prior evaluations; determine what strategies and further treatment may be appropriate; and make referrals to other specialists.

Q: What is a developmental Red Flag?

Red flags are behaviors that should warn you to stop, look, and think. Here is some advice on red flag behavior:

  • Look for patterns or clusters of a behavior.
  • Observe a child in a variety of situations.
  • Compare the child’s behavior to a norm of six months younger and six months older.
  • Note how much the child has grown in past 3-6 months. Has he/she progressed?
  • Know the normal patterns of growth and development.
  • Keep in mind the factors that may be influencing the development.
Q: How can inclusive practices be incorporated in early childhood settings, and how can parents become involved?

The inclusion of children with disabilities in general preschool and child care programs is becoming more and more common. Parents, teachers, and researchers have found that children benefit in many ways from integrated programs that are designed to meet the needs of all children. Many children with disabilities, however, need accommodations to participate successfully in the general classroom. Teachers and other staff often require current information, skills training, and even additional staff to meet the needs of these children.

We always want parents to be a part of their child’s education, and would love for you to volunteer. Speak with your child’s classroom teacher to see how you can help!


Being on a long waiting list can be frustrating. We compiled these answers to questions parents frequently ask with the hope that this information will be helpful to you. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please call Partners In Learning and ask to speak to Aleshya Spruill at 704-638-9020.