I've mentioned before that we are not sending Goldie to preschool this year. So, you may be wondering "What does she do?"
I decided to sign her up for a program at a local church called Children's Hour. Goldie goes once a week for 2 hours. My neighbor is her teacher and I'm the permanent helper in her class. It is an all volunteer program that one of my other children attended for two years. No one has any type of education background, let alone any special ed experience. My mom, who has worked in early childhood classrooms as long as I can remember, described it as "developmentally inappropriate." Which is why I love it!
There is no formal instruction or curriculum. No IEPs, no therapists to count how many times she gets something right. Just Goldie and 8 of her peers.
They do have free time with play-do or puzzles, opening songs, weather bear, craft, snack, gym or music, and a bible story.
I expected the first couple of months to be pretty rough. After an awful summer of "Story Time for Children of All Abilities" at the library, I set very low expectations. Sitting still while someone reads to a large group is not one of Goldie's abilities. Yet. I even second guessed my decision to sign her up for a program with only typical children and no adaptations. However, she has been doing great!
My proudest moments are when I see her at snack time, eating and DRINKING from a cup, and holding her hand as she walks down the steps. I had set a goal at the beginning of summer that she would be able to do both of these things by September. Goldie has worked so hard and I love to see the joy on her face when she has her own miniature cup of juice just like all her little friends. Sometimes, after snack is over, she'll sneak over and try to pour herself another drink.
During music, Goldie does all the hand motions that go with the songs or she and I use ASL signs. In the gym she has been able to do all of the activities with no more help than the other children need.
I've been observing how the children relate to each other. There are two boys that come together and I also bring my niece with us. I have yet to see the children really talk to each other and try to form new friendships. The boys stick together and my niece always wants to be near Goldie. Goldie is ready to be friends with anyone, especially the boys. She likes to sit by them and put her hand on their backs. One of them even seems to be looking out for her when she needs help.
The biggest challenge is craft time. The first week wasn't bad, just coloring and some tiny stickers. Then, they moved craft to a room with bins of toys. So, now she wants to ditch the hard fine motor work to go play in the toys. I keep redirecting her back to the craft table and try to give her enough help that it isn't overwhelming to her. At home she has shown a big interest in coloring. I keep a desk with paper, crayons, and markers in the kitchen for her. When they sent home a coloring page I put it on her desk. She sat down on her own and colored each flower yellow. This is the first time she has ever done anything like this! My pile of Goldie's artwork is growing.
At this point, I'm very happy with our decision and the activities we've chosen for Goldie. I think between Speech, OT, Children's Hour and our homeschool field trips, she's got plenty of learning opportunities, but she isn't over scheduled. Which is good for me too!