Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finding a Preschool

Well over a year ago, while I was pregnant with Hank we looked at some preschools for Goldie. I did this as part of the transition process when she turned 3. I didn't see a place that I loved, so we decided to utilize some community programs this year and revisit the preschool options when she was turning 4.

I began my search anew in February when I saw that a Montessori school was having an open house. It was nice, but it seemed like there would be a lot of rules for Goldie to remember and the room had a lot of furniture for her to navigate around. Goldie also learns best in an environment that is free of visual clutter. I spoke with the teacher and explained what Goldie's strengths and weaknesses were. I did not tell her my daughter has Down syndrome. In my experience, it brings up too many stereotypes.

The school's only tuition option was for 5 days a week, so I decided to keep looking. It would cost us a fortune in gas to make 10 trips a week! My next call was to my neighbor. Her kids went to a Montessori school that was 5 minutes away, but only advertises by word-of-mouth. She was happy to call the owner and talk to her about Goldie.

The owner, Miss M, has really exceeded all of my expectations. She has met Goldie one-on-one twice and has had me observe the classroom one morning by myself. Before I sat in on a class, she told me "I don't want you to get overwhelmed and think that Goldie can't do this, because she CAN." Miss M. has asked me to bring Goldie once a week for 1/2 just to get her used to the classroom and allow them to get to know her. I must have looked a little nervous because she assured me that Goldie will be going to school there as long is that is what I want. The plan right now is for Goldie to attend two mornings a week in the fall and maybe add a third day after the Christmas break.

A couple months ago I was asking myself, "Am I crazy to think that my child with Down syndrome can go to a typical preschool without an IEP and supports?". But, after seeing Goldie in the classroom and feeling the kindness of the students and teachers, I know Goldie will just blossom at school next year. She is already requesting "school" on a daily basis.

This is my first post using a blogging app. If it works out, I may be able to post more often than once a month!


Becca said...

Wow, it sounds great!!! Samantha is in a typical preschool (A rather challenging Jr. Kindy class) 2 days a week (all we could afford...), without supports except for a resource teacher that came for a while for 1 hour on each of the days (school is all-day) to help her with the academic group sessions. The resource teacher no longer visits, as she is no longer needed (as assessed by herself and the preschool teacher). This class has been absolutely *invaluable* to Sammi's development, and has given her a much stronger foundation with which to enter Kindy next fall!! Good luck to Miss Goldie - she'll do great!!

Lisa said...

Oh, Brandie, this is so inspiring to me. Finn's third birthday is just around the corner, and my heart grows heavy at the thought of sending him off to preschool the minute he turns three. My "typical" kids didn't even go to preschool until they were four! This is what I want for Finn - another year at home with me, and some sort of typical preschool in another year or so. Thanks for this post.

Mel said...

Sounds like you have found gold there! Luke starts kindy here tomorrow. He's ready, but I'm not! He'll go for 2 hours 3 afternoons a week, and will have a teacher aide for 3 hours of that time. Luckily for me, I have managed to get a friend who looks after the kids when I work to do it :)

Beth said...

This sounds wonderful! We never used an IEP when Hannah was in her private preschool. We only used the IEP for speech and OT, and they came to our house on her days at home.

It sounds like you've found a great resource for Goldie!