Finding the perfect preschool for your child can be an overwhelming task for parents, but moreso if you are the parent of a child with disabilities and exceptionalities. According to a study by Glenn-Applegate, et al. (2011), a common challenge among these parents is in finding schools or child care providers that can effectively and willingly accommodate the special needs of their children.
With the help of parents, educators, and school administrators from six progressive preschools, we list down 5 steps in finding the perfect preschool for your child.
1. Learn about your child’s needs. Learning that your child has a special need is in itself a challenge. Three mothers share their experiences of finding out about their child’s disability or exceptionality.
Kay’s* youngest son was recently diagnosed with a special need. She says, “Being my third child, I noticed he was delayed in speaking, avoids eye contact with non-family members and is more interested in toys than interacting with other kids.” Kay immediately sought the help of professionals whom she believes could help her son learn to cope with this need and learn how to express himself. She also opted to send her son to a progressive preschool. Like many parents though, her concerns now include finding a progressive elementary school for Caloy* when he is older.
Jasmine Icasiano, a university professor and a mother of two, learned about Julian Magiting’s special need when he was 3.5 years old. After observing how her son behaves at home and in school, she decided to have him evaluated. The assessment revealed that Julian showed exceptionality in math skills and in music.
Nanay Jasmine says, “We were very apprehensive in the beginning because we had fears of how we were going to cope with such an exceptional child. Could we provide the right environment? Were we suited to teach him and would we be able to satisfy his needs?” When their initial worries have subsided, they decided that as parents, they needed to plan for the needs of both Julian and his older sister, Una Bighani.
Nanay Cecil had her son checked after observing that at age three, he still could not utter a word. Through the assessment of their developmental pediatrician, they discovered that he has mild autism spectrum disorder. Nanay Cecil’s concerns included, “Will our child have the chance to go to a big school? Can he have a normal life? Will he ever be independent?” Many parents of children with special needs ask themselves the same things, too.
Teacher Cynthia Acu of The Growing Place Learning Center, Inc. suggests that, “Before looking for the best educational program for their child, the parents should first reach the stage of acceptance of their child’s condition.” By doing so, parents tend to become more proactive in dealing with all the demands of managing special needs.