Monday, August 3, 2009

Settling on a School

Jessica learned a lot at the Child Development Center. The staff addressed her physical needs and tried their best to promote chewing, speaking and interactive play. Jess was indeed a challenging soul. She attended the CDC from the age of 2-6 yrs of age. Just before she turned six, Melissa turned 4 yrs and was ready to start Junior Kindergarten at the Public School. I debated whether to put her in the Catholic school but since Koosh was not Catholic, most of his friends that we had come to know, weren't as well. These friends had children attending the public school.

At the same time, I knew I should decide which educational route I would take with Jessica. And along the same veins, I decided that Jessica should go to a school where children knew her and accepted her and that school was our town's public school.

Many of the staff of the public school were very close friends. I talked to the principal and it was decided that Jessica would start her journey in the educational system by attending the CDC in the morning and the Junior Kindergarten in the afternoon. I enrolled Melissa in the morning program of the Junior Kindergarten so that she could focus on her own transition to becoming a student.

Staff (even friends) were concerned about my decision. Would Jessica's needs be addressed to ensure developmental success. I believed the alternative, sending Jessica to a special needs class over 30 minutes drive away to spend time picking up more behaviors from other children just like her, was not a good idea. At the public school, I felt that she would be exposed on a daily basis to typical behaviors of children, some of whom she knew.

Staff in the District office empathized with my concerns and whether they decided to humor me or not, they allowed Jessica to enroll and granted her a full-time teacher's aide. Jessica was the first child in the district to be granted such a request. I really don't think they thought she would last.

And so Beth came to work with Jessica. Beth had her Early Childhood Education (ECE) that gave her many skills to address Jessica's needs. And at the same time, I enrolled in a Community College in the ECE program myself.

So here we were, Melissa, Jessica and myself all embarking on an educational journey together. My being in the ECE program helped in so many ways. For Melissa, she thought that it was the norm that we both went to school even if it was 2 different schools. When we got together at the end of the day, we would compare what we had learned. Because of the field of study I was pursuing, I could bring home 'circle' activities that I had learned and she would do the same. It was amazing. As for Jess, I became familiar with developmental 'jargon' that the school psychologist was always using.

At the end of our school year, Jessica's teachers forewarned me that they were going to recommend the special needs program in the next town where they felt her needs would be better addressed. I was very upset. I could see that Jessica was making progress and she was making friends. I would need to do my homework if I was to convince them that they should keep her in her community school.

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