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