Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gearing Up for Preschool

I can't believe summer is over, my tiny newborn is two years old, and preschool starts this coming week. Many families agonize over the type of preschool their deaf or hard of hearing child will attend. We don't have that worry, because we don't have many options. In our area, there are no oral deaf schools, no cued speech schools, and no bilingual ASL/English schools. There are three mainstream preschools in our area, and only one has a program for two year olds.

So for two hours on Thursdays, Nolan will be attending First Covenant's "Two By Two" program. I did this program with Matthew, and it is a wonderful program specifically geared to two year olds. As a side benefit, the parents get to go upstairs and have a snack and coffee during the program time (adult conversation is a very big thing in my world).

While I have done this program with Matt, this time it is different. For one thing, Nolan is my baby. My sweet, cuddly, still-missing-eight-of-his-baby-teeth baby. He's also small. Those jeans falling off his waist in the photo above? Size 12 months. The ten month old at today's softball game was the same size as my two year old, so his size makes me a little more protective. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does- he gets knocked over easily and isn't as "sturdy" as a lot of the other two year olds in his class will be.

And then I worry about how well he will hear in his classroom, with 11 other children, tile floors, and poor acoustics. No TOD, no FM System, and no one trained in educating or working with a child who may not hear them well at all with all the background noise.

I worry that the other parents will judge the whole potty training issue, which we haven't started because of some physical issues related to Nolan's PUV's. I dread the talk of toilet training and how everyone else has a great method that works lickety-split.

I worry that he will spit out his food at snack time, or spit up. Or choke and gag, as he sometimes does. That he will start one of his crying jags, which we now know is caused by a reflux event. I worry that the other teachers won't "get" that his eating issues and behaviors are related to a medical problem.

Some people have told me that Nolan starting preschool is no different than when Matt started preschool. But it is entirely different. On-a-another-planet-different. I'm not worried about him learning his colors and shapes, as he already knows these. Hey, he even knows many of his letters and that his name starts with an "N." No, I am worried about him, as a person. Will he socialize well with the other kids? Will he separate from me easily, or has he been scarred from so many medical issues in the past few months? Will he panic? Being the smallest one in the class, will he be babied too much?

We have an "orientation day" and I am going to meet with the preschool director (who personally teaches the Two-By-Two class) to discuss all of my worries. To show her his audiogram and explain that yes, he talks very well. But he doesn't have the concept of "yes," he doesn't answer questions without help, and he might not be "getting" what you have told him, even if he follows along with the other kids.

That first day is going to be harder on Mommy than it is on Nolan. I know, deep down, that he'll be just fine. The first few weeks might be rough, but he'll find his wings, dip them in finger paint, and get messy and be happy with the other kids.


Anonymous said...

Could you hear me say "Awww" as I read that he is wearing a size 12 months jean? Sweet little guy!

It's weird just how much of this I can relate to. It sounds like a great program though and I love that you'll get some adult conversation time in while he's having fun at school.

He'll be fine, mama. You're going to see to it.

tammy said...

Oh Leah, throughout this post my heart went out to you. This program sounds like a wonderful one. Our babies always show us up and do MUCH better emotionally than us as moms! And since Matt has already been through it you would already know if it wasn't right for Nolan.

Just keep focusing on that adult conversation and time away! Oh my that sounds just wonderful!

Lucas'Mommy said...

I would be nervous too... but I know he is just going to do so great. And, you can enjoy some time to yourself!

Holly said...

He will be fine! Kids adjust so well. More than we give them credit for. My 19 month old son just left a mainstream preschool for an auditory oral school here in Houston and I was so worried would he fit in, is it best, etc. He loved his mainstream school and did great. They learned how to work his hearing aids and to keep him close etc. Just tell them what you need, even write it down in a binder of things that would help Nolan. He will flourish!

Holly said...

And, my son also has a moderate hearing loss like Nolan. We left the mainstream school b/c the auditory school starts taking kiddos at 18mths up to 5yrs old. Its a great school and my son has language therapy 3 times a day with his teacher and one other student. The teacher is also a SLP. But, if we didnt have this option, the mainstream school would have been fine. Suggest buying tennis balls for the chairs. I hear a lot of schools are happy to grant this request. And, if you can, you may consider doing an FM system.

Pattie said...

Leah, my heart is breaking for you. I totally understand what you are feeling, as I have those exact same feelings everytime I take Kaitlyn to school.

You are amazing. You are giving Nolan what he needs, and more! And I am sure he is going to surprise you! Granted, he may have moments, but he is going to flourish and take off! Kids are so resilient.

I think your meeting with the teacher is a great idea. Expressing your fears is very admirable.

Plus, you are upstairs from him. If he needs you, you will be there.
Like you ALWAYS are for him!

Julia said...

This sounds like a perfect situation -- a very gradual introduction to a school-like environment, with you close enough that you can help with any problems that come up. You'll get some real-world evidence for how he does in a classroom, exactly what accomodations he needs and doesn't need, what teaching techniques seem to work best for him, all of which will be useful and reassuring when he moves on to the next level.

Julia said...

Oh, and kids typically aren't toilet trained at his age. I don't know what you did with Matt, but I think that the trend these days is to wait until later. We have the APA's guide to toilet training, and they stress waiting until the child is physically, emotionally, and cognitively ready before even starting, so as to minimize regressions and accidents (which can be traumatic to a child). And this is usually later for boys than girls. We have a little potty and it's on Ben's radar screen, but we're not going to start any official "training" for awhile.

leah said...

The staff at this preschool are absolutely wonderful, and will be extremely supportive. We really love their loving nature and willingness to learn about our little guy!

Oh, Julia- we know about the whole age vs. maturity thing with toilet training! Poor Matt is still not totally trained and he's nearing four- we didn't start with him until he was 2 years, 8 months old. So there's no way we're starting earlier than that with Nolan (who has physical issues to overcome as well). Many of the children in the "two-by-two" class are 2 1/2 or almost three, so some of them are potty trained.

Karen said...

Oh gosh, brings back memories! Fortunately, most two year olds just want to play and a lot of the activities are quite visual. Teachers are the key-- hope you have a great one who accommodates well and is clued-in to what your little guy needs. Enjoy your adult time away!

rouchi said...

So nice to go thru your post. Brings back memories of the way we too have brought up our kids.I am glad he will go to normal school as surrounded by normal kids , he too shall be motivated to speak and there is no scope of signing and lip reading. Dont u worry he will be just fine and learn to make himself one of the many kids. I wish both of you the very best as he starts a new phase in his life.thes baby talks are so cute and i am sure you too need some adult talk. It can get tiring constantly with baby talk.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog while looking for outfit ideas for my little preschooler. I do not have a child who is hard at hearing but I found your blog very inspiring and interesting so I've been reading it since last night. I just read your post about your worries for your little Nolan and it made me cry. I can totally relate to it. I just wanted to say that you are such a great mommy and both Matt and Nolan are very lucky to have such a caring and loving mother like you.

dlefler said...

We have had our share of worry with Nolan... I have to share that he is now six years old, and is in a mainstream 1st grade classroom. He is pulled from his class twice per week... for an ADVANCED reading group! Academically, he is absolutely thriving! We did finally obtain a global diagnosis for his condition(s) - he has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. THis doesn't typically cause a progressive hearing loss of the type Nolan has, but it does explain most of his other physical problems. He copes well, however, and is absolutely thriving.