School Bites

Not literally, mind you. But this is the “silly season” for school, because private schools are starting enrollments for next year, preschool parents with kindergarten-eligible children have to start thinking about what they will do with said kindergarten-eligible child, and Valentine’s Day parties are coming.

Yes, really. Tad’s class is actually going to have some kind of Valentine’s party this year, which I guess means that he will actually need Valentines to hand out. I saw some lovely Star Wars ones at the store, so he should be good with that. Too bad they don’t make shark or crocodile ones. I bought Ane some doilies and heart foam stickers, so she will be making her own here at home. And I will probably end up volunteering for Ane’s class party – extra bodies (even ones that waddle) are always welcome when there’s a party.

And in a “Murphy’s Law” moment, Tad has been assigned snack week in March (meaning that we provide the snack for the class for the entire week)… the week before Rerun is due. Actually, I’ll probably be able to prep most of it ahead of time, so it shouldn’t be too bad… but someone will have to remember to put it on the bus with him that Monday if the Webmaster or I can’t. I did write it on the family calendar!

On to school enrollment… despite Ane’s personal gripes, she is staying put at her elementary school next year. She has done very well academically up to this point, and I’ve gotten VERY used to NOT paying a tuition check each month. As much as Ane would like to go back to a private Christian school (actually, what she wants is her old preschool teacher and class back, and that’s not going to happen), she is fine at the public school and I’m hoping that she has a teacher that she clicks with just as much as she has with Mrs. V. this year. I have some connections with other parents with older kids, so I will have to ask about the first-grade teacher quality soon.

Now, Tad… who will turn 5 in August before the deadline, and therefore is kindergarten-eligible. I really don’t want him in kindergarten next year. Even with his delays, he would just be so young. Still, the Webmaster and I went to a kindergarten transition meeting at his preschool last week, and what we learned is surprising, to say the least.

Our school district has many different options for special-needs kids, including general-education mainstreaming with special ed instruction separate from the class, a transitional kindergarten, a “contained learning center” kindergarten, and an integrated kindergarten program (which is for a select number of high-functioning autistic children only). The transitional kindergarten class and CLC kindergarten have size limits (10 for TK and 8 for CLCK), with paraeducators involved, which makes them very much like the preschool class size and structure, except that the TK class will begin basic kindergarten curriculum in a controlled setting, while the CLCK is meant for “medically fragile” kids or ones with a major need for intervention, and focuses on more on the life skills issues that will allow the kids to possibly be mainstreamed someday.

It was a lot of information to take in at one time, but at least the Webmaster and I both heard it all at the same time and one of us didn’t have to fill in the other later. And both Tad’s teacher and speech therapist were there as well. After the meeting, the Webmaster and I chatted with them, and his teacher said something surprising.

She believes that at the end of this school year, Tad will have outgrown the preschool program, and should go into the transitional kindergarten program.

When I voiced my concern about his age, she said that ideally, the best thing for Tad would be to do the transitional kindergarten next year, and then go into general education kindergarten the year after that – meaning that he would essentially do two years of kindergarten curriculum, with the goal of mainstreaming him completely – and he would be seven years old when he enters the first grade.

It kind of boggles the mind when you think about it too long.

There will be parent-teacher conferences for Tad at the end of March (everything is happening in March!), and a final decision will need to be made by May. If Tad isn’t going to stay at his preschool next year (which both he and I have grown very attached to), then I think the transitional kindergarten is probably the better fit for him. He isn’t so high-maintenance that he needs the CLCK (he doesn’t have medical issues, he’s potty trained, and he isn’t autistic), and the class ratio in the TK would be what he has now, 10 kids to one teacher and one paraeducator. It would be a half-day, and he would be bused to a completely different school – and who knows if he would have morning or afternoon classes. Personally, I prefer morning, but kindergarten won’t start near as early as preschool has, so his need to nap will be less, plus Ane will be in school all day, so coordinating their school schedules so they both have afternoons off becomes a moot point. Rerun will just roll with it here at home with me and live on his own schedule.

Did everyone follow that?

I will still keep Tad in the preschool programs at church – if for no other reason than to provide distance between Ane and Tad. And Tad has been making some great strides in Cubbies, and even though he would do a third year, he still has plenty of curriculum to do through.

Tad has come so far ever since he was diagnosed with a severe speech delay. I never dreamed that I would be a “special needs” parent. But here I am, and I want what’s best for him, and for Ane, too. And someday, for Rerun. But I think I’ll let him be born first before I plan his kindergarten career. That seems fair and reasonable. 🙂

2 Responses to “School Bites”

  1. Aunt Lynda
    February 2nd, 2010 08:19

    Sounds like some good decisions are being made. But does everything have to happen in March? Does Web get a paternity leave?

  2. Deanna's Corner » Blog Archive » Progress Reports
    March 30th, 2010 05:44

    […] was kind of surprised, especially since when the Webmaster and I attended the informational meeting, Tad’s teacher was really advocating for the TK.  When I asked what made them decide that […]