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Thursday, October 22, 2009

School shopping

Today we looked at a potential pre-school for Emma. It is a public school and has a fantastic reputation. It is the second school we visited and we were very impressed. The first was a private school associated with the local university that also has a fantastic reputation (and a hefty price tag!) that we loved. It just seems so surreal to me that we are looking at schools already.

Our early intervention coordinator has been discussing Emma's transition into the school system since she was 3 months old. I had just as hard a time then as I do now thinking of my baby entering pre-school at age 3. That just seems very young to me for her to go out into the world without me. It took me longer than that to enroll Julia into pre-school and she only goes 2 days/week. The schools we toured for Emma are full time, 5 days/week!

I feet a bit off after each school visit. Like my world is spinning on the wrong axis. When I was pregnant I never thought I would be looking at the special education departments of schools - let alone looking for them when my child is only two! Nothing prepared me for this - not the countless hours spent with specialists and therapists, not learning the "diagnosis" doctors use with Emma, not the parents I talked to who have also agonized over the transition to school.

And so I tour the schools with a certain detachment. I ask the right questions, nod at the appropriate moments, take it all in - but in my mind it's as if I'm touring the school for someone else's child. And when the tour is over, I feel a bit dizzy from the change in the earth's rotation and just need a while to have things return back to normal.

I'm still not so sure about starting school so soon. I am not sure why the system is such that children place out of early intervention at age 3 instead of at kindergarten age and enter into the school system to receive their therapy. It's almost as if the choice to enroll in pre-school is taken away from the parents when the child needs the therapy services to progress and the therapy services are only available from the school - unless, of course, you have a very generous insurance policy that pays for private therapy or a huge trust fund to pay for it yourself.

What I am sure of is this: Emma will LOVE school. She will probably have a HUGE smile on her face each day when she sees all her friends in class. All the teachers, aides and staff will fall in love with Emma and fall victim to her incredible charm. That Chris and I will do whatever it takes to make sure she goes to the school that is best for her. That I will cry on her first day.

So, over the next six months we will continue to school shop. My world will continue to temporarily spin backwards after each visit. And we will eventually make a decision. But for now, I think I'll continue to enjoy our special time together before Emma ventures out into the world without me.

4 Comments from readers:

Annie said...

Hi, I'm a blog lurker, but I had to comment...

Maryland recently passed legislation for an extended IFSP option. Beginning in February, parents will have the option of moving to an IEP at age three or continuing with an IFSP until kindergarten. I wonder if other states have something similar in the works. Preschools are great, especially for socialization, but they may not be ideal for every child.

Jill said...

I just found your blog through Gavin Owen's blog. I too am from DE and have a child with CP (although his is very mild). I was wondering what school you were looking at and where in DE you are. I'd love to chat :)

jillk77 at aol dot com

Michelle Van Meter said...

I know how you feel; Abby is now 2 1/2 and apparently, in order to get all the "ducks in a row" for her IEP, we will have to start the paperwork process next month (November) for her entrance into the school system at age 3 in April. Crazy!!

AshleyS said...

(HUGS) Know exactly what you mean about looking for someone else's child . . . wanted to tell you thank you for the link to the other post the other day--it really spoke to me. THANK YOU.