I deliberated and agonized over sending L to preschool in the fall. I sent G at 2.5 and he not only loved it, but flourished. He made friends, learned his alphabet and most colors. He fell in love with crafts.
He was also very clearly ready by the time we decided to enroll him at 22 months for the upcoming school year. He was talking in phrases, I was having conversations with him, he was already recognizing colors and a few letters.
L though. L has been consistently behind. At 24 months He was only just starting to understand things like “Put the [object] in the trash can” or “Bring me your coat.” He had only just reached his 50 word vocabulary. Color and letter recognition? Forget it.
When open enrollment began in January, just before L turned 2, I was torn between wanting to send him because it’s what we did with G and wanting to keep him home because he seemed to be at the same level as the 19 month-olds we stood with in the preschool line.
Around the same time, Early Intervention (EI) surprised me by bringing up preschool through the county. The program is for children who will be at least 2.5 by the end of September who have a 30% delay in one or more areas. It was free and L could receive speech services.
The thing was, L did seem delayed in speech and cognitive abilities, but he was progressing. His physical and developmental therapists didn’t think he’d qualify. Or, if he did, it would be by a very small margin.
Come April, we saw a huge leap in progression. L was saying more phrases on his own versus repeating them. He was starting to follow two step directions. He seemed more in line with where G was at 23 months.
It made me feel better about sending him to G’s preschool, so I enrolled him two days a week. We decided to meet with the educators in the public school system to see if L would even qualify. If he did, I could drop one of Ls days, and if he didn’t then he’d already have his days reserved.
We started the process with an optional meet-and-greet with the educators and L’s developmental therapist. Mr Boots and I got to ask questions and get a better feel for the program. Then we scheduled an observation meeting. Here, L played with the educators while they took notes and assessed his speech, vision, hearing, cognitive, behavior, fine and gross motor skills. It was very similar to the yearly review Early Intervention is required to do.
L blew us away with his ability to do puzzles (we don’t do enough of them) and matching physical objects to pictures in a book. There were some things he was able to do having only been showed once, proving he’s a very observant kid.
The biggest thing they were concerned about was his hearing. Apparently L only turned his head once when they went through their list of noises to make. Since we had an appointment with the ENT a week later and they didn’t receive the necessary paperwork from EI before the visit, they went ahead and scheduled us to come back for an official answer on L’s eligibility.
That meeting was last week. They received L’s paperwork from EI, which had determined he automatically qualified for another year with them due to atypical oral motor skills (his hypotonia is affecting his eating which is a health hazard). The ENT determined L’s hearing is fine, though due to the fact that his developmental therapist has concerns, it’s being monitored.
Both reports determined L’s fine and gross motor skill are age appropriate. It’s speech and cognitive that are a little behind, though not so delayed its a concern. The preschool educators determined L is at a 28% delay, which is borderline, but they couldn’t take him unless he had a 30% delay.
It was strange to be told, “He didn’t get in.” I wanted to be happy, but I was a little sad. I was hoping he’d get in so he could receive speech therapy on a weekly basis and it wouldn’t be a hard hit on our finances, as I’m guessing we’ll be going down the private therapy route once L ages out of EI.
But it’s a good thing. I am no longer stressing over whether or not to put my 2 year old on a school bus. I won’t have to figure out how to get two kids to and from two different schools 1-2 days week. L will still receive services through Early Intervention through January, so it’s not like we will be losing the help to keep him progressing. It sounds like here will be another review closer to then and if needed, we can try to get into the program then, if we want.
L is on the right track. He’s been sick over the last few days and it’s been great having him run up to me, point to his nose, and say, “Nonny, blow nose!” He even got mad at G for trying to climb into the swing set to slide down the slide, telling him, “No! You go swing!” There have been so many times this year I’ve been scared he wouldn’t be at this point by the time school started.
I’m happy we know where and when L will be attending school now. The decision has been made, there is. When someone asks, I no longer start with “We are waiting to see if…” I’m happy to know that he’s progressed enough in the last few months for me to finally feel comfortable putting him into the same school as G. I’m happy that L will get one of the same teachers as G, who is just as happy to have him in her class.
And the two mornings a week I will have to myself makes me smile too.