Monday, October 24, 2011

Need Advice!

The girls school plan before we had Sofie home was to keep Sofie back a year. Livi would go in to preschool at age 4 and Sofie would go to preschool at age 5. We had wanted to do this for a few reasons. We wanted the extra time for Sofie to feel safe and attach with us. Since Livi is developmentally older and the first child, we wanted to keep the natural progression of her role and have her go to school first. We also did not want Livi to feel the extra responsibility for her sister that would come with them being in the same grade. She is  already going to feel the responsibility with Sofie in the same school. Kids can be mean.

It has been suggested by numerous professionals to get Sofie in to preschool earlier than later. So, we began thinking of putting both Livi and Sofie in next September but having Sofie repeat 4 year old preschool twice. I talked with CDC about this today and discovered that their funding for an aid in preschool stops when the child is 5. If we want Sofie to continue with an aid she'll have to go in to kindergarten at age 5.

So, Jon and I have a few options of what to do and I think we need some advice...

  • Keep Sofie out of preschool completely and put her in kindergarten at age 6. Livi would go ahead with preschool and Kindergarten as planned. 
      • Pro's - Still maintain Livi and Sofie's separation from each other.
      • Con's - Sofie would not get any CDC aid support. 
  • Put both girls in preschool together at 4 and both in kindergarten at 5 but separate classes. 
      • Pro's - Easiest choice as far as getting Sofie aids.
      • Con's - Livi's possible feelings of responsibility and resentment for having to watch out for her sister who is in the same grade. 
  • Put both girls in preschool, together, and kindergarten together, separate classes, but have Sofie repeat kindergarten.
      • Pro's - Easy way to ensure Sofie gets the aids, and eventually separates the girls.
      • Con's - Still may have Livi develop some jealousy and resentment feelings in the early years and schools are apparently very reluctant to hold kids back these days. 
  • We could also maybe start Livi in preschool in January then proceed with both girls in 4 year old preschool, same class, and kindergarten, separate classes.
      • Pro's - Gets Livi in school first to have the big girl feelings
      • Con's - Still has the girls together in future years and not sure how it would work with her ballet class. 
  • One last option is that we put the girls in separate preschools and/or schools. This option seems a little excessive and unpractical though.
What do you all think? I'm obsessing about this and we have NO idea what to do. I'm not ready for school dynamics yet! I know it is just preschool but keeping them in the same grade or not could have a big impact on their future. 

3 comments:

Alyssa Becker said...

Have you talked with anyone in the school system.

I'm not sure of ALL the details, but do teach special ed at the high school level and this is what we have been told (and I'm sure there is exceptions.

Legally, parents are suppose to enrol their children in Kindergarten the year they turn 5. You are allowed to keep them home an additional year, but then you enrol them at age 6, they are legally placed in grade 1.

Students who have the appropriate paper work (and Sofie will) will qualify for an SEA starting in kindergarten. I can't think of any child with DS who didn't have a full time aid in Kindergarten.

Students with special needs are NEVER held back a year, unless there is a chance they will graduate with a dogwood diploma. This is not usual for students with DS, which means they will be on a graduating program with an IEP. In this case, grade is essentially irrelevant. Do you anticipate Sofie meeting the learning outcomes of each grade and graduating with a dogwood (completing Math 11? English 12?) (It's a serious question - it varies so significantly with children with DS - I don't know many who have, but there are exceptions)

Of course there are always exceptions, but EVERY student in my BASES program is enrolled in the grade appropriate to their legal age (so 13 year olds are in grade 8, regardless of their learning or physical disabilities or exceptionalities). None of them had been held back a year in elementary school. Instead they received an SEA and the support of an integration support teacher, and an IEP with individual learning outcomes based on their needs. The IEPs I write now at the high school level are so varied (and I have students with MID, Autism, CP, DS and a variety of chromosome variations). Obviously there is no one answer.

Also, students with special needs (that are those with a government code) are allowed an extra year of grade 12 (this is where they get the extra time). Not every parent chooses to exercise it - but in our program about 75% do.

I can't advise on the sisterly aspect of it. But I can say that there are legal aspects of it. I'd call the school district and ask to speak to the District Principal for Special Education - they would be able to tell you what is expected and what programs are available to Sofie as she ages (for example, certain middle and high schools have better or more suitable programs than others).

that's the perspective of someone inside the public school system/who teachers special ed.

sorry if that wasn't helpful. just wanted to provide a different perspective you may not have considered.

Val said...

I've been following your blog for a bit. I think I found you through the Keno blog, which I found on Reece's Rainbow. I'm just over in Nanaimo.

I have three neuro-typical children. The oldest two are only 16 months apart and attended preschool together. Mary did get a year in without Thomas, but then Thomas got to start a year early (February baby). Mary enjoys being bossy and hasn't had any issues with needing to be his "protector". I think your option of having Livi start preschool in January (or now!) and Sofie next September should work just fine.

There is one child with an aid in Thomas's now-daycare class. I've sat in a few times and he get a lot of one-on-one. I think the aid would do a great job also in alleviating some of the responsibility you see falling on Livi.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I linked to your blog from the Chapmans blog and have been reading for a while. I work with children with special needs (mostly autism), and in my experience, having a child repeat a grade is very difficult and only done with an extremely pro-active parent and a lot of advocating done on the part of the parent.

Would you maybe consider having both girls do 4 year old preschool, then have Livi start Kindergarten, while holding Sofie back a year, but because she wouldn't be able to get funding for an aid once she's 5, instead of putting her in preschool again, perhaps give her other opportunities with just you to go to play groups at local recreation or communitiy centres 2 or 3 times a week? That way she would still get the social interaction of her peers, be part of a (somewhat) organized group, have opportunities for learning and interacting with others and have some one on one time with you as well.

Definitely a lot to think about though. I pray for guidence and peace in your making of these decisions for your girls' future.