Friday, May 13, 2011

To school or not to school? Wait...

I guess it's that time of year...when parents start thinking about school. Weird that we think of it in the spring and not the fall, but best to plan ahead! I've been seeing a lot of my friends post questions on facebook about if they should homeschool, or public school, or private school, or church school. And then what about kids with special needs? Where do we put them?

Having worked in the Arizona public school system for a number of years, I decided I don't want my kids going to public school, at least not in this state! Originally, I thought homeschool would be a great idea! I figured, I'm a teacher, how hard can it be? Brian and I had ideas about traveling to great historical sites or even other countries and doing science projects in the garden and all sorts of fun stuff. Then Sadie came along, and now I'm back in the undecided camp.

There are a lot of different opinions about how to school kids with special needs. Should you integrate them into mainstream classes in public schools? I think the advantage of this is that other kids are exposed to people with disabilities and learn how to treat them and act around them. Should you put special needs kids in special needs schools? There can be great advantages to this because the teachers and aids that work in these facilities usually have big hearts and lots of patience and know how to deal with special kids. Or do you keep them at home and school them yourself? This can also be advantageous, because you can stick to your routine and be in your own comfortable environment...but it can also deprive a child of that socialization that he/she needs to develop and grow.

I'm curious about your opinion. I know a lot of people who have special needs children read this blog. I also know that even more people who have kids who aren't special needs read it. I'm curious to hear from both sides of the spectrum.

I know Sadie is still a few years off from school, but there is a special needs preschool that will enroll kids as young as 18 months, and I'm considering taking Sadie in the fall to see how she does. She likes other kids so much, and she might just blossom developmentally if someone other than Mama (who DOESN'T have a special education degree or even a degree in early childhood development) works with her on a regular basis. It's free, as long as their grant comes through, and it might give us good insight into what to do when Sadie turns 3 and we start thinking about school.

It's never too early to start planning, I'd like to hear your experiences with this, so that I can start thinking ahead.


  1. I don't have personal experience but we went through this with my nephew who has since graduated. Some public schools have excellent programs with skilled teachers and loads of resources. If yours don't and you have a special needs school close enough - even better. This is a great opportunity for her to engage with other kids and adults. Who knows, a new therapy that really suits her could be Discovered.

  2. My suggestion as an Early Childhood major is to find a school that is a little of both. Mainstream and special needs. of course this might not happen because it isn't a perfect world. The advantages of "mainstreaming" a child with special needs (child first terminology means always referring to the child first, and special needs last for example: I have a child living with special needs rather than: I have a special needs child. This applies to many different needs or differently abled children.) Anyways, the advantage is other children do learn about diversity and that some people are different, and also the differently abled child learns from the "normal" children. I think you have the right idea of trying out a preschool and seeing how it goes.

  3. As a mom and as an early childhood educator, my though would be to try out the preschool. The socialization for her might really be helpful to her development. And I completely agree that kids need outside influence other than mama. We teach them a lot and sometimes, just a change will help. But it is important if you "mainstream" her to make sure they have the resources to suppport her. You have to find something that meets all her needs, socially, developmentally, and academically. That can be a challenge, but it wise of you to start thinking about it now. I have a dear friend who has a child with autism. She so badly wanted to homeschool all her children. But the child is now in school, and it was rocky at times. The biggest challenge they found was the consistency with home and school, but she had to be a big advocate for her child and demand that the needs of her child be met. Good luck to you, and praying for you guys and that God would give you wisdom in this.