Monday, January 11, 2010

transition to kindergarten

About a year ago, a friend asked me if Maxwell would be attending Lifeskills Kindergarten after preschool. It took me by complete surprise. I don't know why, but I had never even considered such a program for Maxwell. Soon after, I talked with his preschool teacher and she explained further. She was a fairly good proponent of this option but suggested I give it time and we would address it more this year.

This seriously has been over a year and I am still struggling with the term "Lifeskills" for a kindergarten student. I understand it simply is a term, but it feels like we are giving up on him at such an early age. I get the need for teaching lifeskills at an older age as we are preparing him for independent life (hopefully)...but at kindergarten?

If we truly want an inclusive society, should we be segregating children at age 5?

But on the other hand, perhaps that is what Maxwell needs. I completely get that he will not keep up with students in a typical kindergarten. But with the help of his signing aide and perhaps doing some different activities, I think it *could* be successful in many ways.

I don't know. Maybe I am completely wrong and just letting my own wishes for Maxwell get in the way of what is best for him. I keep going back and forth...back and forth. It has definitely been weighing on me tremendously.

After sharing my concern with Max's teacher, she offered to take us into the kindergarten class and have him participate (with her as his aide) to give me an idea of what it is like. (That is this morning...I am very curious to see how it goes.) Next on my "kindergarten prep to do list" is a visit to the Lifeskills kindergarten at the other school.

Last but not least, there is always the option of having him attend the deaf school. However, that is 45-60 minutes away. And yes that would help address his hearing loss and communication skills, but would he be able to keep up with his developmental delays?

Hmmm...think, think, think. (Max is watching Tigger & Pooh right now and that is what they always say when they have a problem!)

* If you have any experience or suggestions, please feel free to share. Thank you!

10 comments:

Jaye said...

Ok so here are my two Canadian cents worth on this. I hear you on wanting Max in 'Kindergarden' and not wanting to segregate at age five...but as someone who works with Autistic children, I can tell you that I can spot from a mile away those kids who had the earliest interventions/help/aid/lifeskills etc compared to those whose parents opted to not utilize these classes. until they were older and 'obviously' not able to keep up...these classes will give Max the kindgergarden experience while at the same time always giving him a leg up on getting on in this crazy world we live in. To me, its like having a child with diabetes but wanting to see how long you can delay giving them insulin. Its not a 'bad' thing for Max in my opinion to go to lifeskills kindergarden, but a GIFT! Programs like this did not exist years ago, and children were left to languish and eventually they simply were not able to keep up or function independantly in this world...NOW...now we have so many opportunities for our kiddos that they CAN be independant beyond our wildest dreams.....you are a wonderful mom and Max has come so far that it is incredible! I can't wait to see how he grows throughout the next few years..and I know you will make the best choices for Max...from what I have seen, you always do! :)

AZ Chapman said...

I think Inclusion is the best thing for any kid in K. Max may need help to learn but he can learn. As for me I have been in Inclusive education since Kindergarten and have never looked back sense. I have a job though sped in the community. I think Inclusion is the best option if you want more come visit my blog.

Crystal M. said...

Max is one of the smartest CHARGErs I know, I think you know him best and you are the only one who knows what will work for him. I say check out both classes with Max and see how he does. Maybe make a 2nd trip to both incase he might be having an off day.
I know we are going threw some issues with Eva and school as well, I want her in the school for the deaf but people keep pushing me back and telling me she is better off in the school for special needs, but she gets no signing in her school now. I want to try it out and if it doesnt work then we can move her back but I know she can sign she just needs more of it dailey. I know your deaf school is an hour away and that could be hard on Max with that bus ride, ours is only 30 mins away.
Good luck with everything you do, you never know til you try.
Hugs,
Crystal and Eva

The Claytons said...

Amy,

I have been going through struggles with Christopher for awhile with school now. If you can have inclusion for him with an aide by his side that would be my suggestion. Feel free to msg me on fb if you would like to chat more.

Kim

Meril said...

Amy - this is hard stuff. There isn't one perfect or right way to do it. We visited the LS idea every stinking year with Tim starting in 3rd or 4th grade. It was an annual discussion, and it became clear to me that, while various folks would share their opinions and I was tempted to believe that they were trying to force me into something, really, no one knew for certain when the time might be right. If ever.
The discussion was especially chronic and intense through middle school. Tim had a 1:1 for 7th and 8th grade and that helped buy some time....... but eventually, what decided it for me was myself. I eventually got to where even what I wanted for him and saw as his IEP needs were really going to be met in a LS classroom.
Am I happy with it? Not really..... Would I be happier if he were included in regular HS? Definitely not (I would be so stressed out). But Tim is happy. He actually tells me about his day and people and is starting to have friends with whom he has something in common......
Do I wish schools were different? YES! Do I have the energy and wherewithal to start my own school? No. (though I might be qualified.....do I hear FUNDRAISER? NO!)
I am glad they are allowing and encouraging you to go visit. Do. Spend time there. Go home and think. Cry. Walk. Think......
This is hard stuff.

hannah m said...

Wow, kindergarten!...I can imagine the amount of thought you're putting into this, Amy, and I'm really interested to see where this part of your journey takes you. I can say with the utmost confidence that you are a mama who knows your boy and acts with his best interests at heart - Max is, and will continue to thrive under you loving, thoughtful and insightful parenting.

As a teacher, I can say I am a big fan of inclusion when it serves the student's needs appropriately ...I think integration has myriad benefits for everyone in that classroom. I'll be interested to hear how your classroom visits go...

Debby said...

Max turns 5 in June? Why put him in K in Sept? One more year of preschool could bring you more clairity and his development could point you in the direction. He has made huge jumps in the past year. A lot of kids begin school at or near 6 - Including the ones born after Sept 1st.

Taylor W said...

I am a senior at Texas Tech University who is majoring in Education. Part of my core classes is Special Education and when Chris came in and talked to us It made me want to look into teaching. Chris is such an amazing man. He is 26 years old who has every symtpom of CHARGE. He was main streamed into high school because he told his mother if he did not go to regular school like everybody else he would just stop learning! What a stubborn attatude he has on him. He went to tech school for a while and tried living on his own but found handling his own money was quite difficult for him.He is a councilar at a camp here in Texas for children with special needs. He is now a student at Texas Tech University and is graduating real soon. He is such an inspiration seeing everything that he has gone through. He actually found a love interest and is talking about asking her out. He is such a special young man and he can show anybody that you can achieve anything with even the most difficult of situations pressing down on you. I wish you and Max the best of luck as you travel into his kindergarten years. It is such a tough time and and yet such a wonderful and special time for you both. All my wishes for you and Max!

wendy said...

amy
Max is going to do wonderful at what ever u do look at all he does now when the drs said he never do that... in my book he one smart little boy who going to go far in the world .....

Shannon W said...

Amy,
Some thoughs: He doesn't turn 5 until June. Hold him back a year. I work in the public schools, and I've never had a parent regret that extra year. I also sub a lot in Life Skills, and here kids are assigned a regular classroom teacher. Many participate in music, PE, library, computer lab with their class and an aide. They are in the LS class for other periods of time, focusing on IEP goals in more academic stuff. The "Life Skills" stuff is things like zipping a coat, washing hands, doing classroom jobs, handling the lunch room, taking care of personal belongings and hygiene, etc. One boy, who is only pulled out of the regular classroom for academics, has a full-time signing aide and has been with her since preschool (he's 5th grade now). There are so many options, depending on you and Max! I love being in our LS class and the staff is no-nonsense (every kid has to do what they are capable of doing) but so compassionate and dedicated. Good luck in your decisions.