Which school should we choose?

Avatar for natxie
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Which school should we choose?
4
Thu, 05-21-2009 - 1:13pm

We are in the process of selecting a school for DS this year when he enters kindergarten. He has been diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type), and is currently receiving speech/language therapy for receptive language issues and is also in a private social skills group because of pragmatic language deficits. We went private because the county stated that his academic skills were within the average range and, thus, did not warrant services. Our intuition was that we needed his language issues addressed as he has a noticeable difficulty finding words and because he has difficulty structuring conversation. He is highly active, very sweet and outgoing, but has a somewhat quirky personality. Socially, he is somewhat immature. DS is more a hands-on learner.

Below are the three options we are considering. We would love any input from parents who have had similar experiences.

(1). Private School with a Progressive Approach – DS is currently at pre-K of this school. We like the campus. We like it is not academically oriented, lots of recess time, the more hands-on learning environment. We are worried, however, about whether DS is capable of the individual direction necessary to thrive in the environment. We are concerned that he is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis other students because of his language issues since this school is more child directed play. DS also need lots of teacher redirection. We don’t know if this school is experienced in encouraging children like our DS. Ok, we are confused about this school. We like the lots of recess time, small class size, hands-on learning environment. But in the pre-K year, we had some difficulties in coming up a plan with the teachers to help DS. Under our suggestion, we are communicating with the teachers through a daily log. We feel the teachers are not giving DS enough help on social skills and programmatic language. DS hasn’t make any friendship with any kids in the last year. We are not sure DS should stay one more year to see how things are going to work out, or should we just leave.

(2). Specialized Private School – We found a school which only admits children who are not quality for special education and don’t seem to fit the mainstream, such kids need extra help on certain areas, like minor sensor disorder, fine motor skill, programmatic language/social delay, etc. They don’t admit children who fall to the autism spectrum. From all that we hear, they are extremely adept at integrating the social/language therapy in the school environment. We also feel the teachers may better understand/appreciate children like our DS and would be better able to boost his self-esteem. Our primary concerns involve only one recess time a day, the small size of the class, and whether he would find enough similar children to make friends. Its facilities are smaller than DS’s current school. The consultant of his social skill group recommend this school. I toured the school. But I didn’t feel the one kindergarten teacher was warm, she seemed a little harsh. The children there don’t seem very energetic and smiling. That’s only 10 minutes tour. I could get a wrong impression.

(3). Public School with IEP or 504 Plan - The teachers would have a lot of experience. Our concern is less recess time and a large class. But we like the neighborhood school feeling, it could be easier to arrange play dates, and easier for DS to meet some kids whom he can click with. We are concerned that the emphasis on academics may take away from our DS addressing his language deficits.

Sorry. It’s long. We look forward to any and all opinions. Thank you!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2008
Thu, 05-21-2009 - 1:45pm

I would lean toward the public school. Based on our experience, the teachers are quite experienced at working with children with a range of issues and you will have access to the specialists you need for your son to thrive. Our son is finishing up kindergarten right now and has had a great year. The teacher has really collaborated with us on Ben's ADHD issues (even without an IEP or 504 plan) and gives us daily updates on how he's doing -- and that's with a class of 20 students and no teacher's aide. She's really committed to helping Ben do as well as he can in her class. We've had a lot more acceptance of his challenges than we did in his private preschool.

I worried Ben's social skills could be a liability in making friends but no problem at all. He's friends with all of the boys in his class. He even has a best friend -- another boy with ADHD. They're like long-lost twins! I think in a public school you just get a broader spectrum of types of kids, which improves the chances of fitting in (at least at a young age ... high school years are another story).

Good luck! Sounds like a difficult decision and I'm sure the other parents here will have useful input.
Michelle

Avatar for natxie
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 05-21-2009 - 2:02pm
Just want to add a little more about our public school. Our home school is one of the top elementary schools in our county. It's very academic oriented. The class size will be 1:25.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2008
Thu, 05-21-2009 - 2:27pm

Our public school also is highly ranked. A lot of focus on academics, but in kindergarten (at least with skilled teachers) they try to make learning fun. While they may not have recess every hour, I've stopped by when they're doing learning games inside -- the kids are having fun and not realizing they're learning at the same time. I think there's been the right balance for our son. Structure and predictability to the day has been a good fit so far.

Is there a chance you could visit one of the kindergarten class before they're out for summer? It might help your decision to see the public school class in action.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 05-22-2009 - 10:43am

I'll ditto the check out your public school--ours has really excellent teachers, and KG may look like it has only the 1 recess, but gym is active, of course, and they do any amount of more-active, less-seat-work things in KG.

I'll warn you, though--there's a huge difference in our KG classes from fall to this point of the spring. At this point, it's closer to a 1st grade class, whereas at the beginning, more preschool. Our KG sort of ramps things up--every so often, adding expectations, etc. I've found that to be true in most if not all the elementary years.

I really don't know what to advise you on this one. My ADHDer gets social help in public schools--lunch buddy groups, speech pragmatics at various times, etc. On the other hand, a school where they primarily do that sounds really neat, but I can't tell from here, of course, if your kid needs that much, vs. the clear benefits of being in the neighborhood kid groups & stuff like that. I guess I might try the public KG & rethink later if necessary? But I'd visit, or talk to a teacher there, or whatever, if you can. I will say, my kid probably wouldn't do well on kid-lead learning at that age, he would've chosen all math and no writing at all, thus letting the deficits get worse.

Megan
Megan