Students in the Elm Classroom are elementary age (6–9), with moderate language and self-care needs. Elm is specifically designed to support early elementary-aged students, who may be experiencing group instruction for the first time. These students learn most effectively in a pair, but they can also learn in a group of 3-4 as well. Academics are customized (and modified as necessary) for each student and follow Oregon State Standards.
Elm students require more frequent praise and reinforcement in order to remain motivated during work times. They are able to request for preferred items in full phrases and can follow 2-3 step directions, with moderate to little prompting from an instructor. For example, students are able to follow a direction to retrieve something from inside of their classroom and will return with that item without a reminder from a teacher. Sensory engagement, social skills, and language practice is interspersed throughout the school day, and individualized programs are created to increase independence with daily living practices (for example, expanding food repertoires, utensil use, etc.).
Elm students participate in weekly Community Based Instruction (CBI) in order to generalize skills learned in the classroom. For example, while out on CBI, Elm students practice staying with the group, reading community signs, and active listening skills at library story time.