Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Preschool Parade

Nolan currently attends a preschool program designed specifically for two year olds and their caregiver for two hours every Thursday. While he is already in a "program," we are in the process of making decisions regarding his placement for next year, when he will attend preschool on a more regular basis (and without my presence). Registration for preschool starts on February 2nd, so this subject has been weighing rather heavily on my mind recently!

Our area is rather rural, which limits the choice of preschools. In one way, this is almost a blessing- we don't have to fret over whether to send him to an auditory-oral type program, because we simply don't have one. Our choice is between sending him to a mainstream preschool, or a preschool for children with developmental needs.

In our specific situation, the choice to mainstream was rather simple. Nolan does not require any physical therapy, occupational therapy, and has no cognitive delay. Nolan's main developmental concern is the development of normal speech and language patterns, which is best served in a class with typically-developing language models children.

Having made the decision to mainstream, we are focusing our selection process on two preschools. One is the school Nolan currently attends, and the other is the preschool Matthew currently attends. We will call them "School A" and "School B."

There is a checklist to help narrow down the qualities desired in a school for a deaf or hard-of-hearing child, and I have looked over the list and have come to a decision on Nolan's placement for next year. Anyhow, here is an overview of the two schools:

Physical Environment:

Preschool A: The children stay in one room for most of the classroom time. The children do move to a "physical activity" room for part of the day. The floor is tiled with a large circle-time rug. The room is medium-sized. There is a fish tank in the room.

Preschool B: The children circulate between four rooms in a two hour period: a craft room, a circle-time room, a "centers" room, and a physical activity room. The craft room is tiled, the rest of the rooms are carpeted. All rooms but the physical activity room are fairly small.

For informational purposes, a larger room with a high ceiling will have more distortion. A smaller room will have more noise (volume). Pick your poison.

Class Size:

Preschool A: Usually 12 children
Preschool B: 20 children (with three teachers)

Transitions:

Preschool A: The children only move from their room once during the two hour period.
Preschool B: The children move through four different rooms in a two hour period.

Number of Classes/Week:

Preschool A: 2 days per week, 2 hours per session.
Preschool B: 2 days per week with the option to add a third day. 2 hours per session.

Familiarity:

Preschool A: Nolan knows the teacher as he currently attends this school.
Preschool B: Nolan is does not know the three teachers of Matt's school.

Number of Children With Hearing Loss:

Preschool A: 0
Preschool B: 0

Classroom Amplification Systems:

Preschool A: No soundfield or FM
Preschool B: No soundfield or FM

Lighting:

Preschool A: A mix of natural lighting and artificial lighting, well lit.
Preschool B: Mostly artificial lighting, well lit.

Noise from Adjacent Spaces:

Preschool A: Preschool is completely segregated from other areas and is not exposed to any other noise.

Preschool B: Preschool occurs in the midst of a space used by other organizations and may have noise from other sources throughout the preschool period.

Behavior Management/Structure:

Preschool A: Redirection is used for behavior management, slightly less structured in feel.

Preschool B: Redirection is used, "Sad Notes" may be sent home for a child who is having difficulty maintaining classroom behavior standards. Very structured.

Both preschools have a daily schedule, educated teachers, a variety of centers, well themed and planned activities, lesson plans, and teachers with great articulation/clarity. Both preschools use a variety of methods to tell stories, include visual props (like felt boards) and have a lot of music included within the program.

Both preschools are wonderful, and it is very hard to make a decision between the two. However, because Preschool A has fewer transitions throughout the day, is familiar to Nolan, and has a smaller class size (hence: less noise), we will be choosing Preschool A for Nolan's education next year.

7 comments:

Ericka said...

I just got an e-mail today telling me that it's time to set up a meeting to discuss Miles school placement for next fall. I can't believe how quickly time flies! We only have 1 choice for a preschool. Our city schools have 1 preschool. And in order to get services, he has to go to that preschool. I'm just hoping that they accept him!

CAUSE ME TO HEAR said...

As I read your post it made me flashback to my teenage years when my father would say to me, "Think it through..." I catch myself often saying something similar to my own children, reminding them to "think, think, think." I will say,though, I never dreamed as a teenager all of the thought that would need to go into making one decision! It's exhausting sometimes! Then, after you weigh all the pros and cons of each option and finally get the decision made, you have to wonder...did I make the right one?:)

leah said...

Ericka, we're really lucky because Nolan doesn't have to go to the developmentally disabled preschool to obtain his speech services. He will continue to get his services in our home until he starts universal pre-kindergarten at the age of four. We really want him to be with children who have typical language development right now, so I'm glad that the CPSE speech services can be given at our house!

And oh, the constant debating of what is "best." Sometimes I just say a quick prayer and rest in the fact that there really is no "bad" choice involved here. Still, there can be a lot of agonizing over such a simple decision! Things were much easier with Matt (who also receives CPSE services, but just has a speech delay).

rouchi said...

This is one of major concerns for parents.We did not have too much choice as we wanted both our kids to go to the same school which makes it easier for us to plan our holidays and events.The integration is not too difficult as I am constantly asking her to pay attention in the class. The rooms are big, no carpets,35 kids in the class and loads of noise. But all schools are like this here. I hope and wish you to come to the best decision for you both and Nolan . All the best

Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

Ugh, the preschool parade. Glad you came to a decision! Sounds like it's a great school!

Terena said...

great checklist and break down of the pros and cons. this will be very helpful to someone trying to make a similar decision

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Makes sense to me... and sounds like they both are fairly good choices - always a relief :0)

And just look at that picture! He looks so BIG!