What is Mainstreaming?


Preparing students to mainstream to traditional school environments is a key part of The Joy School's mission.

Students mainstream from The Joy School at different ages and grade levels. The timing is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Academic progress
  • Social and emotional maturity
  • Student's ability to manage belongings in an age-appropriate way
  • The next school being considered

On average, most students are ready to mainstream after attending TJS for two to four years.

The common element among our mainstreaming students is they leave us as self-confident, self-reliant students who are able to advocate for their educational needs.

How do we know a student is ready to mainstream?

The first and most important step in mainstreaming is ensuring the student's skills meet the expectations of his or her future school. All new students are tested to provide baseline data and diagnostic information for instruction. As students advance through their individualized curriculum, updated testing is recommended to ensure adequate progress. Our students also participate in standardized testing each fall.

Secondly, students must demonstrate independence in their academic work, both during the day and when working on homework assignments. They must also show age-appropriate social skills and behaviors.

Finally, students must be able to articulate their learning challenges and exhibit the self-advocacy, self-awareness and self-acceptance to ask for specific help when necessary.

What happens when it is time to mainstream?

When a student is ready to mainstream, the School works with parents to find the most appropriate destination school based on the student's and family's needs. Most students transition to traditional schools utilizing accommodations and skills learned at The Joy School.

85% of our "mainstreamers" attend private schools. These students must test, qualify and be chosen as viable candidates for admission. The fact that our students consistently test into private schools, and are academically and socially successful there, is a testament to the preparation they receive at The Joy School.


If you want to know more about mainstreaming, please contact Andrea Dorr, Transition Coordinator.