5 Steps to Finding the Perfect Preschool for Kids with DisabilitiesParents, educators and school experts share their personal stories and advice.by Lois Flores .
2. We’re going on a school hunt.
Next step: find a school for your child!
The study of Glenn-Applegate, et al. (2011) stated that compared to parents of preschoolers without disabilities, parents of children with disabilities “…experience more stress related to their children’s out-of-home care.” Among the things that they worry about is identifying a school that would
willingly work with their child’s different needs.
The research also identified the qualities that parents look for in a school for their child:
1. The program’s ability to cater to the unique needs of their child,
2. The existence of a specific program for children with special needs, and
3. The presence of educators who are capable of responding to their child’s needs.
Here are some questions to think about when you go school hunting, according to experts:
a. What do I want? vs. What can the school give?
Prof. Francisca C. Lacanilao, founder and directress of The Learning Tree Child Growth Center, suggests for parents to understand their expectations from the school. "While you are in search of the perfect school, ask yourself too if your needs are a perfect match to what the school can give."
Prof. Elizabeth King-Santos of Roosevelt College and Kalayaan College for Early Childhood Education and Special Education says, “Choose a school that believes in what you believe in, too!” Often, schools are more than willing to share their school’s philosophy — their beliefs of how children learn and of their roles as educators in the development of your child — during parent orientations, or when interested parents inquire. For example, the Community of Learners Foundation of Feny de los Angeles-Bautista expresses the belief that, “Every child deserves a developmentally appropriate, culturally-relevant, and contextually appropriate education that respects his or her individual needs, abilities, and interests.” If you believe in the same ideas that a school does, that school is worth a visit!
By learning about the school’s philosophy, you could match your family’s perspectives & values with that of the school’s to see if a partnership with them could work. This strategy worked well for Nanay Jasmine who said, “We were so happy that we found a school willing to work with Julian's needs and we also admired that they were open to all types of learners.”
b. Could I visit?
Experts and educators alike highly recommend visiting your prospect schools to guide you in making an informed decision. Prof. King-Santos suggests for parents to ask for a tour, and if possible, ask if your child could sit in in one of their classes.
In Community of Learners, a school visit is an integral part of their application process. They believe that a visit will give parents the opportunity to understand their program first-hand. During school visits, Prof. Lacanilao of The Learning Tree also suggests for parents to ask if the school has a center for special education and facilities for intervention.
c. How will my child be included?
Every school follows its own process and criteria for accepting applicants. To know how your child will be served by the school, call to inquire about their requirements for children with special needs. Some schools accept students on a case-to-case basis, while some schools accept one child with special need per class. Most of our school respondents request for academic records and assessment reports from professionals that reflect their diagnosis for the child and the recommended placement/program. Always keep copies of these reports handy and update progress reports from professionals annually.
Teacher Thumby Server of Toddlers Unlimited also recommends, “If you are hoping to mainstream your child, look for a school that has organized and clear guidelines on accepting, working with and assessing children with special needs.” Remember that the effectiveness of any program within a school, including special education, relies heavily on the systems the administration has established. Do not hesitate to ask for the specific ‘hows’ of their program! The more you know, the more you will understand how your child will fit into their school community.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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