Friday, April 20, 2012

Early Intervention to Preschool Transition

Even though Claire won't be three until January, we've already started worrying about working on the transition to preschool.  We live in a fairly small town, and because of this there are limited preschool options, some of which would need to start at two and a half.

We marked Head Start off our list early.  The location of the program is a bit of a drive and would require a lot of flexibility at work, or a bus ride for Claire.  I'm not ok putting a non-verbal two year old on a bus, so that was out.

Next to be scratched off our list was our church preschool/daycare.  I approached them before Claire's first birthday to see about her attending daycare there.  I told them she wouldn't be walking by then (a requirement), and wanted to know if there were any exceptions that could be made.  I was told they checked with the state and that nothing could be done.  Maybe they checked, maybe they didn't.  All I know is that the daycare we have Claire in now quickly found a way for her to be in the toddler room with her peers even though she wasn't walking.  Which leads me to assume (dangerous, I know) that they just didn't want to be bothered by Claire's "needs" and this was the easiest way to get out of her being there.  If a program can't put forth a little extra effort for my child, I don't want her there.

This left us with two options.  The in district half day preschool program, and an out of district (private) all day preschool/daycare option.

The out of district school is where we would eventually like Claire to go, but we decided against their preschool program for now. First of all, she would have to start this fall, at two and a half, to be guaranteed a spot.  Second, it's a bit of a drive, about 20 minutes.  I can do that with my work schedule, but it does add a little extra crazy to our morning.  The biggest drawback for me with this preschool was the room itself.  The preschool room is SMALL.  Probably a third of the size of the daycare room she's in now.  Add in all the preschool stations, almost double the number of kids she's used to (some of them easily twice her size), and I see her being totally overwhelmed.  Also, while there is supposed to be a nap/quiet time in the afternoons, I don't see the one small room ever really getting quiet enough for her to nap well.  And a good nap is essential for all of our well being.  In addition to all of that, the daycare will also take siblings to age 12 after school, adding more big kids to an already crowded small room.

The in district option has quite a few advantages, at least for this first preschool year.  First, she can transition at three.  They will guarantee her a morning spot, which will leave her afternoons open for the all important nap.  There are five classrooms, and while it is a mixed age group (bigger kids) the rooms are large enough that I'm confident she can find a quiet spot if she needs to decompress for a bit.  She'll also be in the same town as me.  If something comes up, I'll be five minutes away, instead of 25 minutes away.

My one concern about this preschool, which will be addressed, is that when I visited, the classroom I was shown seemed to have a lot of children with special needs in it.  Of course, this was the room that was recommended for Claire.  It was presented as the choice for her as there is usually an aide there and that the teacher knows some sign (which is good), however I will not have her placed in that room *because* she has Down syndrome.  When I visited there were eight children in the room (the other small group of eight was in another room for a project), and 3 or 4 of them had noticeable special needs.  I am concerned that this room has become the unofficial "special ed" preschool class.

Now that the where has been decided, we are focusing on the when.  Claire could start preschool at two and and half.  I would prefer she start at three, but we will also be changing daycare (her center only goes to age 3), and I want to space the changes out so we don't have new daycare and preschool dropped on her all at once.  We have begun the daycare search, and I hope to have her settled someplace new this summer, so that she can start preschool after the winter break.

The next daunting task is the IEP...


  1. Ooh, so many options! In this area the public preschool option is only Special Needs. We weren't thrilled about that, but to be honest, she still learned *soooo* much in that classroom. We also started her in preschool at age 2, although we didn't put her on the bus until she was 3. In her last year of preschool, at 4, we had her in the SN public preschool 3 days a week (they were 1/2 days), and in a private, typical Junior K program (full-day) 2 days a week.

    By the way, at all stages of her preschool career, we were completely blown away by what she could tolerate that we never knew she would. Like she would nap, no problems, in a busy, bright classroom, and that she would enjoy riding the bus. Who'da thought?

    So glad to see a new post from you!!!

  2. Ah did it happen so fast, I remember thinking "well at least we won't have to worry about school for a while"! We are going to start Sutter at our district school which is a combination of special needs and "typical" kids, but the ratio is more typical kids than special needs kids in each room. I'm hoping to do 3 mornings a week and then by the time he's 4 either add 2 mornings at Landon's preschool which he would be the only special needs child or have him go there full time if he's ready!

    I know he's ready for school and more stimulation so part of me is super excited for the next step, but the other part of me is scared to death! No bus rides for us either, I'll be taking and picking him up each way!

    Can't wait to hear how the transition goes - although I'm sure Claire is going to do great!

  3. this is crazy times for all of us! how did school happen! Maddie starts this summer...I know she is ready! it is me that is having the issue...I feel like we have to send Maddie to our local Child Development Center...where therapists are located...but I may do some days there and some days in our local school the info! not loving all the testing for IEP...but it is necessary! smiles

  4. I empathize. Deciding who is going to take care of your child is so important, and when you are doing it, so overwhelming! It sounds like you are going about it the right way though, and logically listing your pros and cons. I have a friend who has a daughter who is 12 and is special needs, and I see the challenges she has in making sure that Mary is loved and cared for, and not isolated, stereotyped or teased. And if something doesn't work out, they find another alternative. You have a great attitude!!!

  5. It sounds like you've really done your homework -- just so much to think about, I am sure it is overwhelming at times. I bet Claire will adjust just fine.

  6. That is a lot to think about!! That is one of the things I find that sucks about living in a more remote area...I don't even have an option really as to where Russell can go when the time comes. Anyway, I agree with the comment above, you have really done your homework and thought things out really well, so Claire will be in the best spot for her.


Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear what is on your mind.