The Mathews

The Mathews

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Don't Put Him in a Box - or Prescribed Preschool for that Matter

My Little Inventor
      It's hard to believe that Robby will be starting preschool this fall.   While a difficult decision for any parent to make, our choice of schools had double weight:  
1.  Robby has an endless quest for new knowledge, an innocent demand to be correct, and a constant need to be doing something.
2.  Andy's fabulous Early On instruction in physical therapy ends once he turns three (next year).  He has to receive instruction through a preschool setting (supposedly in our residential district).   

     Knowing this, we needed to weigh out all options for education to reduce the number of buildings (not to mention districts - potentially three counting mine) that we would have to utilize each day.  
     After much worry, questioning, prayer, and research, the choice was beyond  obvious.   Robby will become a BRONCO in the fall at Coopersville Schools, and Andy will follow the next year!     
      The welcoming tone for Robby's endless energy and acceptance of Andy's needs was beyond anything one can imagine.   So get ready preschool teachers, be sure to eat those Wheaties because we're headed your way!

 ***   As a means of informing other SB parents of our experiences and bringing a wider range of special needs acceptance, here is the longer, unfortunate story I had to endure that hopefully others won't.

It is unfortunate that some teachers/people are not willing to look at the positive potential in a special needs child.   While researching which school / district Andy would receive the best care in (you can choose anywhere b/c preschool is a paid program), our own residential district gave me a harsh reminder of how ignorant we as humans can sometimes be.   (Please note that I purposely didn't announce that I was also an educator in the phone interviews of all the schools.)  

Only as a follow-up to curriculum and class-size questions did I inform the preschool teacher that we had a second child, Andy, who would be attending preschool the following year.  Andy would also be receiving PT in their building.   While I inquired about the preschool teacher's experience with children with gross motor issues, classroom set-up, PT, etc, Andy was instantly labeled as a child who would need a "special service" other than the typical preschool events (true - once a week he would have PT with a therapist, but otherwise, nothing would be different) and would attend a totally separate program in a special needs classroom where the students mainly contain cognitive and speech issues (which infuriated me since Andy's vocab. is more impressive than most five year-olds).   While the preschool teacher's view may be accurate for some children, it definitely did not address Andy's LEGAL need for least restrictive environment, and she had not even met him.   She completely refused to address that 
*  he is above average in verbal / social skills
* has surpassed cognitive levels at this age and beyond
* has average fine motor skills for his age
* is evaluated every six months, etc.   

Her hyper-focus was on his gross motor issues, and how that would impact her classroom design (give me a break!).   Therefore, "he will be placed w/ a teacher and other students "like" him."   Like him?   Excuse me, no one is like him - just as every other student in your classroom is unique as well.   

Obviously, I could have battled her and legally one, but did I really want to place Andy in an environment that has already set his potential so low?   At the same time, did I really want Robby introduced to a program that allows such behavior to be pressed upon him - just because kids are different they are going to be separated from you.   I don't think so.   So, although we are supposed to send him to our own residential district, I refuse.   

As an educator (and human for that matter), I know you don't impose restrictions on students (especially those you have never met), you build them up to break through the restrictions that they have self-imposed so that they see their full potential and succeed.  

Thank-you Broncos for welcoming BOTH of my boys and not placing them in a "boxed" program.   We can't wait for fall and future adventures with you.   

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