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Saturday, February 28

Preschool Options

We have completed tours of each of our preschool options, and would like to share a brief description of each. Please feel free to leave a comment on your observations. We certainly have formed our opinions, and have made a selection, but I am curious what you think of each of these programs.

Preschool A:

Five day a week, 9 am - 1 pm mainstream classroom setting with 14 hearing peers. Hearing impaired children are an addition to the preschool program and are supported in the room with one teacher of the deaf. (If three hearing impaired children enroll there are 17 children in the class; if six enroll there are 20, and so on.) The class is for three year old's, so regardless of the HI child's actual age, they will be in a classroom with three year old's.

The classroom itself is large, with multiple carpet and tile surfaces, making acoustics rather loud. There are multiple stations to engage the child in dramatic play, arts & crafts, building blocks, etc.

There is no clear classroom schedule, with the focus of the school being more of a "Montessori" type, where the children select the activity they wish to do whenever they wish to do it. The day begins with one hour of open play followed by thirty minutes of play in the large muscle room. Snack time is not conducted as a group, but at the child's leisure. There is only one circle time, which is conducted at the end of the day for ten minutes of music or story. The hearing impaired children, however, are pulled to the side of the classroom individually for calendar, weather and an opening story before they can begin playing in the classroom.

The program does provide audiological support through Ohio State University, and can offer physical or occupational therapy if needed.

The hearing impaired children stay after the typical day ends, which is at 11:30 am, for a focused group exercise with the TOD and lunch with the hearing impaired children together.

Preschool B:

This preschool is unique in the fact that it brings together a mainstream preschool setting and an deaf oral education program in one building. So, the hearing impaired children are in self contained classrooms in the morning, where they receive their primary education and speech and language services. In the afternoon, the hearing impaired children move the the mainstream preschool classrooms.

The oral school is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, (from 9:15 am to 2:15 pm) and have their mainstream preschool on Tuesday afternoons (12:45 pm to 3:15 pm). The schedule of where the child will be each day is a bit confusing, and seems to be frequently changed based on enrollment. The daily routine includes circle time, with calendar and weather, as well as story time. Each child also has his/her own notebook that travels between home and school with the current lesson plans, homework, and happenings in the child's life that can be discussed at school.

The children range in age from three to five years old in the oral classrooms. There is no clear progression in the program. At the discretion of the director, the placement for the child is determined based on language and social skills. There are two oral classrooms at the school. The oral preschool program has between 2 and 3 students in each classroom, with no hearing peers. The teachers have a general education degree, but without a concentration or focus on deaf education. The speech and auditory therapy is provided for 90 minutes weekly as a pull out of the classroom, and is individual. There is no nap time in the program.

There is a clear daily schedule for this program, including table talk, circle time, themed project surrounding holidays, stories and authors, etc. The teachers create individual activities for the children to help with fine and gross motor skills, even though on-site occupational or physical therapy is not offered. Both oral classrooms have lunch together daily, providing an environment of about six hearing impaired children for language enrichment.

The oral preschool classrooms are small, carpeted, well lit and have sound field in them. The mainstream classrooms are larger, but carpeted, or there are tennis balls on the chairs to reduce noise in the areas where there is tile flooring. There is a clear indication that the mainstream preschool has made significant improvement to the acoustics of a typical preschool in order to help the hearing impaired children.

Preschool C:

This oral preschool program is offered five days a week, from 8:53 am to 3:00 pm. The program has between six and eight hearing impaired children in each classroom, with the addition of two hearing peers to the "Preschool 2" classrooms. The teachers in all of the classrooms have a concentration in deaf education.

There is a clear schedule and routine for the day, including speech therapy, daily auditory training using the DASL curriculum. There is also on-site occupational or physical therapy, if that would be needed, as well as an on-site audiologist and testing booth. The day begins with circle time, including calendar, weather and a morning message, where the basic principles of literacy are presented. Snack times are conducted as a classroom, providing a rich opportunity for language. They also do a daily math activity, story time, and have an afternoon nap.

This program includes "specials" each week, including art, music, cooking, library, and for Preschool 2, gym.

8 comments:

MB said...

I would definitely pick C. And not just because it's the longest day. ;)

Kel said...

Gosh, what a variety! Personally, I think I'd lean toward C as well. I feel routine is very much healthy and needed for kids, and it sounds like C is the one best able to provide that. They all have a lot of positives to them though.

leah said...

My vote is C. The clear schedule, auditory training, small class size, and exposure to all the language opportunities with music, cooking, art, etc. wins hands down. For the record, preschool A is my least favorite. :)

Hetha said...

Interesting! Very interesting. I love it that you have so many choices. I need to read your link on DASL because I have not heard of that before. Ethan is in Montessori preschool and they actually do have a very focused schedule, even though there is flexibility on what the children work on...so it's the best of both worlds for us. But knowing Drew's success with his hearing and speech I would guess you're going to go with option C?

Anonymous said...

C C C CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC I would defin go with C

Preschool SLP said...

The advantage of having so many hearing peers makes A seem good for your child, who has great skills and looks like he is headed for a typical, mainstream kindergarten. But the "Montessori-style" label can be code for "we just let the children play all day." And having the deaf children pulled aside at the beginning while the hearing children play sends a clear message to your child: you're different. Besides, why do they think the deaf children need to learn calendar math, etc, and not the hearing children?

It's unfortunate that the other two programs don't have more hearing peers for your son to interact with. Peers are invaluable. Still, I'd probably go for C if it were my kid. Onsite services (especially if their audiologist can map CIs for you), academics, and even specials? Sounds wonderful!

You're smart to be cautious. I've worked in programs that had everything preschool C has but were just going through the motions. Observation is key. If you have someone in the education/speech/audiology fields you can get to observe, do it.

Anonymous said...

Did you have the option of simply a typical preschool program, then in your IEP request support or consult services for Auditory-Verbal therapy which is your goal since you want him mainstreamed & FM system, pre-teaching, etc.? I think it would be nice for him to be with his same aged typically hearing peers this early in the game since that is the developmental path he is following. Just a thought..... It sounds like Columbus is hurting for Auditory Verbal Therapists??

Drew's Mom said...

"Anonymous",

Of course we would have the option of sending Drew to a typical preschool. I've explained our decision making process in several posts. This was not a valid option for our family or Drew. Each family has different opinions, ideas and thoughts on schooling, which need to be respected.