How many times can I think, we are so blessed, when it comes to our new home and the area we’ve moved to. I felt this way the day I happened to be walking with my son down the sidewalk and decided to stop into a building that had big letters on the side: EARLY EDUCATION. The building was honestly just a square brick building, nothing fancy, but when you walked in it was decorated in a myriad of colors with tables, easels, chairs, blocks, spinning circles.. it was endless. The entire back hallway seemed to have a plethora of educational entertainment for children. Do you ever get that feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, even though a moment before you may not have even known the place existed? That’s how I felt. I was meant to be there, in the hallway, walking with my son hand-in-hand.
I only meant to get some papers about their program and wound up talking to the secretary, the screener and the speech teacher; all of whom loved my son on sight. He had fun playing with the toys while we talked about the process of signing him up for early education this year, his attributes and difficulties. The screener was so happy to meet him that she wanted to personally be the one to do his screening test. The screening is a mandatory requirement for attending. Although Early Education is free and provided by the state, they require the screening to get an idea of his development area to know if he needs extra assistance. If he was to need it, then he would go on to be tested by the Diagnostics Team which would then be able to diagnose his general development and be able to assign teachers specifically tailored to his needs.
We were there for quite a long time. I had hoped to get him in a lot earlier for his screening but things always get so busy around here. I was pretty impressed by the fact that the screening teacher actually made sure to keep in touch and contacting me personally to make sure I had the appointment. We had to wait until just last Friday to get him in, but we did finally get there.
Upon walking in I was greeted warmly and remembered by the secretary and the screener. They were excited to meet my husband and see my son again, which gave me a warmth of comfort knowing that these were the type of people who would be caring for him. The test was roughly 30min wherein he would stack blocks, walk, answer questions to the best of his ability, etc. The screener was very patient, since most of the time he didn’t want to answer anything as he didn’t know who she was. He did okay up until the point where he didn’t stack the blocks exactly like she wanted, but he thought he had and he didn’t understand what she wanted him to do. So he got withdrawn and upset a bit, but we were so proud because he didn’t throw a fit and he tried! Eventually she had me ask the questions so she could see how he answered. We’ve already been aware that he would need to see a speech teacher to help him with his communication and another for cognitive development. There weren’t many surprises when we were told he’d go on to Diagnostics for further screening. My little man has been many times identified as possible ASD because he’s incredibly smart, but lacks social graces.
A few things really impressed me about this school that I wanted to give so much praise about. It was these few things that gave me that feeling, a sigh of relief in the fact that I was such a blessed mom to have this center. It was when she began talking about what happens after Diagnostics.
You see, when my eldest went to preschool, there were tables set up for learning what was necessary, but mainly it was a daycare. Other preschools are set up for specifically education without a lot of play or hands on. This center is completely staffed and creatively catered to the children’s needs. After the child goes through the screening (and Diagnostics if necessary) the teachers are chosen based on the child’s development and we will sit with them and go over our goals, their goals, what is necessary for moving into the kindergarten phase and also what we’re comfortable with. So let’s say we told them that if our son started going into hysterics to call us so we can bring him home, they would. If we said that we’d like him to be able to have his blue blanket if he gets sad, they would give it to him because (here is the shocker) we know our child better than they do. What teacher ever says that? I’m not being rude when I say that, but mostly it is always “we know what is best for your child’s learning”. Here it is more a partnership wherein they know how to teach him and we know how he can learn.
And guess what? It’s all free. This entire program is offered by the state. It is not an all day program (their all day preschool does cost because it’s formed like a daycare), it is a few hours – a few days a week, but that’s all we need. It’s important that our son learns how to function outside of the home without us, in a learning atmosphere and most importantly – to be around other children his age and learn from them as well. But as he’s never really been away from us, it’s good to start off slow.
Needless to say, I came home joyous and also sad because we are moving into the next level. I have all the papers to turn in tomorrow and we’re waiting on the call from Diagnostics for further testing so he can be placed with the teachers best fit for him. They have an entire slew of teachers for absolutely everything and have all types of children – all levels of disabilities, special needs, all spectrum’s of autism to just happy go lucky children. They’re prepared to handle anything and their bright smiles every time they saw him with his excited smile and happy clapping, really made me feel I was in the right place.
Also, I am hoping to do this!