Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kindergarten Choices

Melanie and I had a great meeting with Whitney's teachers, physical therapist, interpretor, IEP administrator and teacher's assistant this past week. It was time to set goals for the next year at school. As we looked back we're pleased with all the great help Whit is getting at school. She's made great progress with paying attention in class and participating in the activities. She still needs reminder prompts to take part in what's going on around her. But she's getting better all the time. We set some new goals for this next year, but the most important item of the meeting was some discussion about where Whitney should go for kindergarten next year.

Whit has three choices for school next year. On one extreme she can be "mainstreamed" into a kindergarten class full of typical kids at the same school all the neighborhood kids attend. Whit would still recieve all the speech, physical and occupational services she gets now, but she'd be in a class with 30 or more of her peers. Other parents feel strongly that even though their children have special needs, they should be in a class with their typical peers. Melanie and I just don't feel that way. In fact I think Whitney would shut down with the commotion of 30 or more other kindergarteners in the same class.

On the other extreme is a brand new school for disabled children being built in our school district. It will be finished just in time for school to start next fall. At this school Whitney would be placed in a class with other children with disabilities. Many of the children with the greatest needs are sent here and they have a good experience. However, if we go this route, Whitney wouldn't have any contact with a typical classroom setting or any of her peers without special needs.

Then in the middle is an option Melanie and I are considering most seriously. Many elementary schools in the district have clusters of special needs children that attend smaller special classes, but also have contact with the other students in the school. They have lunch together and go to the same programs and assemblies. And Whit will have access to all the services she needs, but she'll get a bit more of the flavor of "normal school." I really like the thought of this, because it closely resembles the special needs preschool where she's thrived for the past couple of years.

The great thing is that the school administrators will allow us to change our minds if the situation we choose isn't working out. So we'll talk more before we make the final decision, but it's comforting to know the school district has so many great programs for special children like my little daughter.


Genevieve Ross said...

Sounds like you guys have a lot of support with the school situation. So far we are trying the middle road with Zoe too. Since she is still little, it is a lot easier. It sounds like you all know Whitney well and what situation she would most thrive in. Good luck figuring it all out.

Jenny said...

Taylor started kindergarten this last August at the regular district kindergartencenter and has done super. The staff has been fabulous and she attends the special ed class room during centers (where the kids do more fine motor skills) and she has an aid that helps her individually. She loves the kids and being so involved. This has been the best thing for us as she has learned so much from the mentoring peers. She will end up staying at the school for 2 years because of her fine motor skills holding her up but she is making good progress. I am trying to make Taylor her own blog when I get it up and going I will let you know. Hope all is well glad all the test came out good, we have been through all of those before and recently another set of MRI's on the skull and spine again and all went good. Take care. Jenny

Nate said...

Thanks for the good input you guys. Education is so important! We want to make sure we make the right decisions for Whitney.

Jenny, it's great to hear from you! Mel and I have been wondering how you're doing. I hope you, Taylor and the family are well. We'd love to catch up when you guys get down this way. Just watch out for all the snow. ;-)