Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Preschool Tour

Ok, the subject line of this post completely freaks me out. Where has time gone? Didn't I JUST have this kid?

Yesterday, we visited a very special preschool that we are considering for Christian. We visited almost all the classrooms, met with many of the educators, and had a unique opportunity to observe kiddos JUST LIKE Christian in a very special learning environment.

In a nutshell, this school is a not-for-profit day school that offers developmentally appropriate programs for infants, toddlers, preschool and elementary aged children WITH and WITHOUT hearing loss. 85% of the children at this school are typical hearing kids, while 15% have some degree of hearing loss. What is so special about this school, is that it offers and INCLUSION environment for kids with hearing loss. For the kids with hearing loss, they have an amazing opportunity to be with their peers, who serve as language models. They have a unique partnership with our CI Center.

Chuck and I were SO impressed with the level of attention that the children with hearing loss received from the teachers. Each class has two teachers, one educator and one SLP. The classes are small, and the D/HOH kids get direct one-on-one support from the SLPs, all the while being fully integrated into the classroom. We observed several instances where the D/HOH kid needed a bit more instruction during an activity, and the SLP was RIGHT THERE assisting them. WOW.

The classrooms were literally bursting with language opportunities. And the school was designed for D/HOH kids--there are acoustic panels all over the place, sound fields in all the classrooms, and even the preschool rooms were carpeted. This place was MADE for my kid.

The school also has a FULL audiology suite, complete with a sound booth and a full-time audiologist on staff. The audiologist on staff was previously employed at Hopkins, and they are equipped to handle any and ever audiological need that we would have. Again, this place was MADE for my kid.

We are trying to keep an open mind with all of this. Our public school system here in our county has a good program, however it is a completely different approach, and we can't even compare the two. The county program segregates the D/HOH kids from the typical hearing kids. This does work for some kids. However, as Christian grows, and as his personality blossoms, we are learning that he is a very social little guy, and he absolutely benefits from the social situations around typical hearing kids. He so desperately wants to talk. I am having a hard time seeing him in a classroom without strong language models that are his peers.

So, what's the downside? Well, it all goes back to money. How are we going to come up with the money to do this for Christian? We are applying for financial aid. And, should we chose to go with this program, WE WILL MAKE IT WORK.

11 comments:

Mom to Toes said...

OMG, Tina... that sounds heavenly. I have never even heard of a program like that. How perfect!

(I am seething with jealousy, by the way ;)

Mom to Toes said...

OK, I just looked at the tuition.

Seething jealousy has been replaced by my jaw dropping to the floor.

I'm a little less jealous now... but totally with you on the "find a way to make it happen" idea.

Christian's Mommy said...

Yes, the tuition is crazy expensive....BUT, I know in my heart it is worth it! I seriously will wait tables if I have to!

MB said...

Sounds like a great place. One of the women in my ASL class has a 2 year old there! She is from Alexandria City which basically has no services so I think they pay the tuition, though I could be wrong.

Do the county preschools not have language models in the classroom? I guess our auditory-oral program doesn't now that I think about it. But CS and TC do. Which is ironic...

leahlefler said...

Yikes- expensive tuition but it looks like that school is absolutely amazing! I wish we had something of that nature here! We have a choice between integrated preschool (with kids who have various cognitive/physical problems) and regular mainstream preschool. We'll be going with the mainstream schools for the same reason- we want him to have peers who have typical language patterns. I wish we had something like River School- I'd wait tables, too!

Christian's Mommy said...

M-They have adult LM, but not children or peers. I desperately want him around typical hearing kids, especially now with his implant. I know DC also feeds into the program with free tuition.

Christian's Mommy said...

M-They have adult LM, but not children or peers. I desperately want him around typical hearing kids, especially now with his implant. I know DC also feeds into the program with free tuition.

michelle b said...

Tina,

I'm so glad you loved River...now you know why I'm such a relentless cheerleader about the place! On top of having an almost perfect setting for our kids, it really is such a nurturing and supportive environment with staff that you'll LOVE. I hope everything works out. Hope to see you all soon.

Abbie said...

I just choked on my strawberry looking at the tuition fees but that sounds like the dream setup.

misskri said...

What an amazing school. I wish they had something even similar here...the tuition is pricey but it sounds like you get every penney's worth (and more)!!!
BTW...I LOVE the video of Christian saying Elmo! He is such a handsome little man!!!

Lynn's Blog said...

Wow Tina, that sounds terrific! We're looking at preschools for Josh right now and I know it's stressful trying to choose a place that fits them well. You'll do the right thing for him, and the financial part will work out. :0)