Friday, January 25, 2013

Summer School

Originally posted here

Going back to preschool after winter break was tough for Bobby. Both he and Maya missed it (and begged for it) for the two weeks that we were off, but when they went back, Bobby had a very difficult readjustment period. His teacher told us recently, after several weeks of class, that he's finally back to his pre-Christmas self.

In chatting with her about the transition from Preschool to PreK, one of the biggest concerns is summer break. School ends in mid-June, and doesn't begin until mid-September. So, what to do... We hadn't initially planned (or budgeted) for a summer school or camp, but realized very quickly that if we want Bobby's PreK year to begin better than his Preschool year did, and if we want both kids to have both a fun and educationl summer experience, we will have to figure something out. We wont know if Bobby will qualify for an aide over the summer (that will come to pass by the spring) so it was important for us to find a school that would be able to give him the support he needs with or without a one-to-one while also meeting Maya's educational and social needs.

I filled out the application and scholarship applications for one of the Play and Learn locations. This locally based childcare organization has 11 locations, and some of the schools are actually Montessori in nature. After speaking with a friend whose son goes there, I called and made an appointment. We weren't disappointed.

The director and assistant director were very welcoming, and I was impressed by their video security, both outside and inside the school. It seemed like a location that would both protect the kids from unwanted outside visitors but also keep the kids safely inside. We visited the preschool class which, based on their age, Bobby and Maya would remain in through the summer (if they turned 4 prior to June, they would be in the PreK class). The teacher is degreed in early childhood and special ed, as well as being a trainer on autism awareness. So, a very good fit in that regard. Bobby was in the thick of things right away (they have a large calendar on the wall) and Maya sat down on the carpet for circle time and the story that followed.

During the summer, each week has a theme and they bring in all sorts of things to the facility (like horses, water play, etc) so that the kids get to experience field trips in their own backyard, basically. Looking over the schedule, I think I want to go to summer camp!

They were very willing to answer all of our questions, and their informational talk covered much of what we were interested in. It seems like a good fit. While we 100% think Bobby will have the best experience if he qualifies for an aide, it seems like they would be able to accomodate his needs if he doesnt have someone with him, which is nice to know. The kids would go three mornings a week (to help prepare them for 5 morning a week preschool) and both really seemed to like it. (Maya informed us that yes, she wants to go there for the summer).

We plan to have the kids home for 2 weeks, then summer school/camp for 2 months, then home for 2 weeks, then back to school. Since the new baby is due in July, this would give us some mornings to try and square away the whole 'new baby' experience (for its good and bad) while still giving the kids fun activities and giving us full family time in the afternoon and evenings.

Financially, it's a stretch. The kids go to preschool for 8 hours a week right now; the cost, for both, is $340; for 9 hours a week, that cost will double. (And this school isnt outrageous from what I've looked out). The biggest difference is that the summer program will supply snack, but still. It's a huge increase (and one we didnt plan on). Of course, PreK in the fall will be a price increase (we should know tuition when we register on Sunday) but that is something we knew was coming down the pike. So, we'll see. Play and Learn does offer scholarships, so I filled out the form for the kids, and we'll see if our family qualifies. If so, great; if not, then it will be something we'll have to consider really hard and see if we can swing. But the fact that they offer that is great, and I was pleasantly suprised that, because we are applying for the scholarship, they didnt require us to pay the registration fee, as it would be prorated based on any scholarship funds they give the kids. So, that's another load off my (financial) mind.

But, all in all, it was a good experience, and I was pleased with what we saw. It's hard to trust your kids to strangers; last summer was a rough time for me as I came to terms with the kids going to preschool. Even though it's our parish school and it had a great reputation, these are my itty bitty babies... My sweet little ones... How could I just release them to strangers? But Miss M and the rest of the teachers and administrators we've come into contact with have been great; Bobby's BSC and therapists are wonderful. This really was the right choice for us and for both kids. Both of them have grown so much, and I'm grateful that we opted to try.

Hopefully, this will be another of those great experiences!


Monica said...

Lurker here, coming out of lurkdom to say that I know and love the staff at that Play and Learn. I thought about mentioning them to you previously but did not want to seem like a creepy lurker. Too late now! The staff is dedicated to quality and I know they will try their best to meet any of your needs. And the director! She is a great one. As someone who works in the early childhood field, I can say this is a great center without hesitation.

Michele said...

Thanks Monica! A friend's son loves it there too.

Anonymous said...

With an autism diagnosis, it is fairly common for the school district to pay for preschool. If you haven't yet looked into it, here is what typically happens in my state. First the school district will offer a public school preschool; if it doesn't suite him, you just say so, and say that he is making progress at his current preschool, moving him would be disruptive and they should fund that instead. Sometimes they say yes, other times you have to file for due process (although it almost never goes to due process before they say yes). Not sure if a religious preschool complicates things or not....

Michele said...

I wish, Anon! They have todl us that since preschool is not mandated, we have to pay for it (although if he doesnt go over the summer, he'd get no services). Makes no sense!

Anonymous said...

Yes, they will say no. They will tell you they never pay for it - and it is completely untrue. You have to refuse to sign the iep

livieandhermommies said...

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