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Special Education Essentials

Live • Online • 12 PD Hours

Improve your understanding and approach to special education! In addition to sharing the latest research and best practices from Vanderbilt University, this course connects early childhood professionals with a network of support and provides practical strategies to mitigating challenging behaviors.


Head Start programs are required by OHS to reserve at least 10% of their enrollment for children with disabilities. Special Education Essentials is designed for early education leaders, directors, specialists, lead teachers, and administrators who want to provide exceptional service to children with special needs. Building on the foundational knowledge of Special Education Basics, this course offers practical strategies and ensures compliance with federal policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Special Education Essentials helps early childhood professionals improve their understanding and approach to challenging behaviors in children with special needs. Developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University, this course highlights the latest information on why challenging behaviors occur and provides effective strategies to improve them.

Special Education Essentials provides a community of support. In addition to self-paced modules, learners practice what they learn and discuss real cases during live, interactive sessions with an early intervention expert and other professionals from across the nation.  Learners will connect with their peers and build a support network with other professionals from across the country who face similar challenges. 

Sign up today for Special Education Essentials and help create a better future for children with special needs.

Start Date: 

Pre-registration is open! This course will be available starting May 2023.

Course Level: 



None. Special Education Basics is highly recommended.

Target Audience:

Instruction and Effective PracticeLeadership and ManagementProgram OperationsParents and Families, and Support Services

Course Meeting Times:

In addition to completing online modules, learners will be required to attend two live sessions on the first and third Monday of the month from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. ET.

Completion Timeline/Duration: 


Head Start Alignment:

This course supports programs in meeting the 1302.60 Full participation in program services and activities of the Head Start Program Performance Standards in which a program must “ensure enrolled children with disabilities, including but not limited to those who are eligible for services under IDEA, and their families receive all applicable program services delivered in the least restrictive possible environment and that they fully participate in all program activities.”

Registration Rates

Member Rate:

Regular Rate:

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Download the Syllabus 


Online, Self-Paced Content
Live Coaching from Facilitator
Access to a National Cohort of Peers

12 Hours of Course Material

3 Months of Access to Course

Video Content
Discussion Forums
Digital Badge
Certificate of Completion with PD Hours
24/7 Access to Transcript

Course Author

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly Vazquez

Zuly is the Manager of Early Head Start Professional Learning Programs at NHSA. She has worked with Head Start, and Early Head Start programs for over a decade, specializing in training, mentoring, coaching, facilitation, curriculum implementation, and management. She worked for several years in the classroom, providing high-quality education to children from different cultures, traditions, and ethnicities. She is a former EHS/HS parent. She has vast experience supporting and providing technical assistance to teachers, family child care providers, education specialists, and families in large EHS/HS programs in Florida and Georgia. Over her career, she designed a supplemental Christian early childhood curriculum, bilingual online lessons, and classroom observation tools and has facilitated early childhood education courses in English and Spanish at the college level. As an active early childhood advocate, she is a board member of her local NAEYC affiliate and Family Child Care Home Alliance of Georgia. She is a senior advisor of Latinas United for the Children of America.


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