QUESTION: Didn't get into preschool. Now what? :(
My son has been in EI since January and is making progress but I know he still needs help and so doesn't his coordinator the problem is is that he had his preschool eval and didn't qualify to start when he turns 3 in April. My biggest worry is that he will go backwards and become that very quiet child that just sits in the corner and watches what is going on in the room. He is finally coming at of his shell and starting to interact with people and will now tolerate another child playing next to him. The team that did his preschool eval said that he did good although I don't see where they got that from. His speech varies sometimes you can tell what he's saying other times you can't infact the first thing the head of the department said to me when she heard him talks was "They dropped him from speech?" I really feel it has to do with all the budget cuts that schools have been making lately. My question is where do I go from here? I have his team meeting on Monday to discuss why he didn't qualify and get copies of their reports.ANSWER: Play "School Time"
Well, this question is asked far too many times, but not out loud. Most of us just keep that anxiety and frustration inside when our little ones don't pass the "exam" to get into pre-kinder. But this isn't the time to get frustrated. We need to remember that our children, especially toddlers, watch and hear our every move. They are in tuned with their surroundings. They might not always act like it, or even know it. When my daughter turned two years old she knew over 2,000 words. My mother actually sat down for like a whole week with her and wrote down and counted all the words she was saying. She even knew some sign language at that point. She loved to learn and every chance we got we turned it into a fun learning lesson.
So, this is my advice to you. Weather you work or stay at home, every chance you get, be your child's teacher. Designate a time that is "School Time." Wake up a few minutes before your child wakes up and print or write out a lesson plan. It doesn't have to be something extravagant. Use books you already have or use a coloring book. A great resource would be Letter of the Week. They have themed weeks, but you don't have to waste tons of paper to print out everything. For example the first week would be the "Letter A." Spend the first day singing about the letter A, second day, color/paint the letter A. Third day, read stories and have your child point out the letter A's. If you don't think you have enough time, just do this twice a week. When you are driving play a game to see if they can spot letter A's. This is also great bonding time with your child. You can also have "word days." Pick a word and tell your child every time someone says that word to do a dance or give that person a hug or if they point it out they get a sticker. Whatever works for you.
As they get older have them sit in a desk or at the table and do their "homework." Get them a star chart, give them chores. Follow a routine as they would in school. Get them ready and excited to start school. Take field trips. Or just if you are going to the store, say it's a field trip and give them a list of things they have to look for, like a scavenger hunt.
Most pre-k classes also still take naps, so have a set time that he takes a nap or lays down. Also have snack time and teach him that he has to eat all his food. Have him help you prepare snacks as well. What kids doesn't like to help mommy?!
Set up play dates. Invite family over or let him spend time alone at their house and have your family to give him a new word. Have him tell you all about it when he gets home. This should be super fun for him.
Everything can be fun and educational for kids these days. There is no need to worry that your child will not be in school. Their first teacher is their parents. And about those reports you are going to get. Don't let them stay in your mind too long. Each child learns at a different pace, all that matters is that he is exposed to this. There are children who do not and their parents work all the time.
So, keep your head up and give your child a big hug and tell him that you are proud of him and that you are going to help him get ready for when he needs to go to school next year.
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I got an email from another mom talking about the EI and services that this mom is worried about. Here is what she had to say;
I know that her son is in need of these services but do not know much about them. So I posted a response for what I know and what I did with my daughter. Even if a child is developmentally slow they can still have fun and do as much as you can with them. I did find some resources, Autism Speaks. Thank you for letting us see the other side.
Hello! I saw your response to the Mom that asked about her son not making it into preschool. You wrote a very nice response. However, I think you may not have understood the nuance of her question.
She is a Mom with a child in the Early Intervention system and was trying to get her son into the Special Education program at her district. This is the only way her son can continue receiving therapy services at an affordable rate. Since most medical insurances in the U.S. do not "cover" developmental therapies for children with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) or many autistic spectrum disorders, this poor Mom will have to pay out of pocket for therpists. This can cost a minimum of $100 per hour.
I know that this issue is completely foreign to Moms that have not had a child with special needs or in the EI/Special Services system. But you wrote such a nice response, that I thought you might like to know about "the other side" of schooling issues (special ed).
My very best wishes to you!