Preschool/Early Childhood

Enrollment for the 2021-22 school year is currently at capacity.  We continue to accept new applications for children to be placed on our wait list.

Integrated Preschool

The Portsmouth School District's preschool program is located at Melville School.  It is a special education program designed for children who have an identified disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Research shows that children with disabilities benefit from being instructed with non-disabled peers, and with this in mind, Portsmouth invites community partners to participate in our program.  

In our classroom, children with and without disabilities have the opportunity to learn and grow together in a high quality, stimulating and nurturing environment.  Each classroom is staffed by one certified teacher and one or two paraprofessionals, and there are up to 15 children in each session.  We are rated four out of a maximum of five stars in Brightstars, RI's tiered quality rating and improvement system.  

For community partners, we plan to have the following offerings for the 2021-22 School Year:

  • Four afternoons per week- Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 to 2:50 PM.  

  • Four mornngs per week, Monday through Thursday, 9:00 to 11:15 AM 

*Offerings and session times are subject to change

Tuition information will be updated to this website once the district school year calendar is approved, likely in March or April.  

Our classrooms are open to preschool children aged three through five.  To be eligible, children must turn three on or before September 1 of the school year and may not turn five prior to or on September 1 of the school year.  Children who are eligible for kindergarten (i.e. celebrating fifth birthday on or before September 1 of the school year) are not eligible to be community partners in our preschool.  

All children must be residents of Portsmouth, and children without disabilities must be fully potty trained.  Children must meet all requirements for registration with the Portsmouth School Department.  Bus transportation is not provided for community partners.  There is limited enrollment for community partners, and not all applicants can be selected for the program.  We may require a classroom visit prior to a child's acceptance.  Should the number of applicants to our program exceed capacity, preference will be given to children who will be eligible for kindergarten the following school year.  

We require that all community partner applicants participate in our Child Outreach Screening process before being considered for our program.  Please visit our child outreach webpage to schedule your child’s screening appointment.  We also require participation in a classroom play date where we can observe your child in regard to our entry comptencies.  

Tuition is pro-rated for children who enroll after the official first day of the program, but not for early withdrawal from the program. Tuition is paid in two equal installments (cash or check), due August and January.  A non-refundable deposit upon acceptance is required to reserve a child's spot in our program.  

  Instruction is aligned with the RI Early Learning and Development Standards.  For more information about RIELDS, click here.

For information about Portsmouth preschool and early childhood special education programs, please contact

Deana Dufficy, 401-683-1650 x5038 dufficyd@portsmouthschoolsri.org

Special Education Services

For children eligible under IDEA, we provide a full range of special education and related services:

  • Specialized Instruction

  • Speech-Language Therapy

  • Physical Therapy

  • Occupational Therapy

Services are provided in one of our preschool classrooms or through regular appointments, on a walk-in basis, according to each child's individual needs.