(Or, The Stuff That Is Making My Brain Explode Today)
This is me thinking out loud. Please feel free to give advice or ignore me, as you feel so inclined.
1. Should I send Bub to JK this September as planned?
- My next-door neighbour works at the school and recommended a good teacher for me to request. This teacher had an autistic boy in her class last year, and since the classes are a mix of JK and SK students, this boy will be in her class again this coming year, along with his EA, which means there will be two adults in the room who are knowledgeable about autism and accustomed to accommodating for it.
- Convenience. I’ve arranged my teaching schedule so that I can do the drop-offs and pick-ups myself, but that’s possible only because it’s less than a five-minute drive to the university from the school.
- It’s free. And we’ve got three years’ worth of law-school debts to pay.
- I’ve read the article about how advantageous it is to be among the oldest students in the class. As a November baby, Bub will be among the youngest, but if I hold him back a year, he will be only slightly older than his classmates.
- If I put him in another preschool program, he will get many of the benefits of JK (classroom experience, socialization), and I will buy myself a year in which to consider where to place him. If he’s doing well, he could transition into SK, and if he’s still having problems, we could move him into JK with an extra year of preparation under his belt.
- Toilet training. ‘Nuff said.
2. Should I put Bub into a Montessori school?
- He would be happy there. Montessori education emphasizes independent learning, so Bub would not be melting down constantly in response to forced structure and transitions.
- Bub’s academic skills are already strong and would likely continue to develop in that environment. (To wit: he can read at least sixty words by sight, as I discovered this afternoon, with some ability to sound out new words.)
- As I was pondering these issues I came across this post, which is making me reconsider the value of learning to cope within a structured environment. Having successfully home-schooled her children, this is what Mary P has to say:
When I was homeschooling, my two directing principles were:
1. Children are natural learners who don’t need to be coaxed or manipulated into learning.
2. My role is facilitator of this natural drive, not enforcer of information absorption.
Thus, my days with my kids involved me following their natural curiosity. I would suggest activities that would include aspects of learning they mightn’t get to on their own, or to enrich their inclinations, but it was always their curiosity and desire that led us - and they had lots! EVERY child does.
If my principles had included children need to learn structure and adherence to routine in order to prepare them for the Real World, I’d probably have established set times for lessons and required submissions of completed worksheets at regular intervals. However, I don’t think this, so I didn’t do it that way.
Do Bub’s particular quirks mean that it’s more important to teach him how to accept instruction? Or do they mean that he’s only three years old and he could use a year in a less stressful environment before making the leap into a more typical classroom?
- The emphasis on independence could mean that there would be little to challenge him to come out of his shell and interact with the other children. One of his speech therapists visibly shuddered when I mentioned Montessori as an option: she agreed that Bub would love it – but it would likely not foster his social development.
- It’s probably too late to register for any preschools – and the local Montessori school requires applicants to pay a non-refundable $100 deposit simply to be considered for the waiting list.
3. My home-care provider is having a baby this fall, which means I’m on the hunt for alternative care. Should I place the children in another home-care situation, or in a day-care centre?
- The curriculum at the centers I’ve visited emphasizes emotional intelligence and episodic memory. They even use a chart with icons to represent the daily schedule (something that is very useful for boys like Bub to help them adjust to the structure of the program).
- Convenience. The on-campus day-care center is, well, on campus. And they’re open until six, which will be useful since I have a class on Mondays that runs until 5:30.
- If I decide not to place Bub in JK, and it’s too late to register for a preschool, day-care would offer many of the same social benefits without a transition halfway through the day from one place to the next.
- I can’t even imagine how stressful it would be for Bub to be in a large day-care center full-time, constantly surrounded by other children. The home-care environment he’s been in until now is small, intimate, home-like – it’s restful. Day-care centers are stimulating and fun, but they seem to me to be the very reverse of restful.
- Although I’m getting near the top of the waiting list, there’s no guarantee that I will get a spot.
- I managed to stumble upon an ad posted by a woman who lives less than five minutes from me and is opening a home-care this September. She seems very knowledgeable and professional, and she just happens to have two openings for exactly the days I would need. If we like the look of each other, we could have a contract signed by the end of this week.
- Instead of being separated all day, Pie and Bub would be eating lunch together, playing together in the afternoons after her nap. They would be in a home environment where there is a single caregiver for Pie to bond with, and a restful environment in which Bub can recover from the stresses of the morning.
- The fees are just as steep as day-care, and the pick-up time is 4:30 (I will have to find out whether the caregiver would be willing to extend that once a week to accommodate my afternoon class).
- The plan is for my previous caregiver to start taking children back into care a couple of months after her baby is born. It’s quite possible that she will feel differently about that plan when the time comes, and indeed both of us might want to wait until her baby is a bit older before resuming our arrangements … but I already feel guilty about leaving my new home-care provider in the lurch after only a few months.
Remember the days when we thought life would get easier once the kids started school?