Why We Didn't Send Em to the Special Needs Preschool

Now that we've finally come out of the closet with our big move coming up, I feel like I'm finally able to write about so many other things happening in our lives right now. I'm excited to get these things written down so that we can remember them for ourselves, but I also hope that sharing this experience might be good for someone else too. 

We've been talking about sending Em to the special needs preschool at our local public school for months now. That was always the plan, and though I was hesitant to send her at such a young age, I ultimately came to terms with the fact that early intervention is the best thing for her to get her caught up on skills as soon as possible.

Last Tuesday Em's teacher called me and wanted me to come into the classroom while the kids were doing circle time for the two of us to talk, and for me to observe the classroom and see the kinds of things that they'll be doing in there.

When we were talking the teacher told me that all special needs students ride the bus (something we had been expecting for months now), but that the kids get there at 7:15 to eat breakfast before the school day starts at 7:50. I explained to the teacher that I was very concerned about this because Em is so small and has had a pretty traumatic experiences with food from a young age (AKA choking at every meal for a few months before she finally learned to eat), and because of it she never eats for babysitters currently (with the exception of one of my friends who she will eat cereal and chips from), and that I would feel more comfortable if she could eat breakfast at home, and then I bring her to the school for the start of the school day at 7:50. The teacher told me in that meeting that it is a part of the special needs program that all kids attend breakfast and that I basically didn't have a choice in the matter. 

I wanted the comfort of knowing that she had a good breakfast before going to school. I was fine with the teacher's request that she has the cafeteria food with her friends for lunch since it's a half day program and if she didn't eat lunch, she would be home in an hour to eat lunch with me anyways. But her teacher seemed very unwilling to negotiate the breakfast issue.

Feeling discouraged and reluctant, I went back to the school later that afternoon for her big IEP meeting with the same teacher, and all the school therapists as well. During the meeting I expressed my concern about Em eating breakfast at school and asked again if there was any way we could make an exception for Em and they straight up told me that breakfast wasn't a requirement and that I was more the able to bring her in at 7:50 when the school day started if that's what I wanted to do. I looked over at the teacher who didn't say anything except had this look on her face like, "oh crap I just got caught in a lie."

And that's basically what set the entire thing downhill. I was really annoyed that someone would lie to me about something so small the first day meeting her. In my mind, if the teacher was already lying to me on the first day, what else was she going to lie about later in the year? To me it seemed like she had her own agenda for Em and she would have said or done whatever she needed to to make her plans happen. 

Another thing that I really didn't like was that when I went into the classroom to observe "circle time", it was a group of kids all sitting in a semi circle staring up at a projector screen of what appeared to be youtube videos going through the colors and the days of the weeks. I'm sorry, but how is that any different than my child being at home watching Blue Clues? If I'm sending my daughter to a preschool program, special needs or not, I expect her to get the same teacher led circle time instruction that her brother is getting at his preschool program. 

Ultimately, if we were staying in Georgia for the entire school year I would have pushed all this at the school a little more and demanded that she be choiced into another school because this one obviously was not a good fit for her. If I'm giving my special needs child to someone to care for her for any part of the day, I need to know that I can trust that teacher 100%, and in this case, after being lied to on day one, I didn't have that trust at all. 

I'm grateful for this experience because it helps me to be better prepared when we go through all of this when we get to Utah next month and I work on getting her into preschool there. I'll be better informed on what type of program I want for her, and what to look for in a teacher. I also wasn't very impressed that Em was the only kid in the class who couldn't walk, and would like to see her placed with more kids that were on her level both physically and mentally. So for now I'm just taking deep breaths, and hoping for a better preschool situation in a couple weeks. 

11 comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this post and parents know best! hang in there. http://stylesprinter.com/

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  2. First off, I am a former sp. education teacher and what that teacher did was a bunch of bull. Parents are the ultimate decision makers and are always part of the team between the school staff at each IEP meeting. You made a great choice getting her out of that teacher's hands. She ought to be ashamed of herself for putting you through that discouragment. I think you will find a better fit for her elsewhere. Don't be discouraged. The day will come and you will feel great.

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    1. I so appreciate hearing your opinion on this since you've clearly been there! We're keeping our fingers crossed for a much better experience when we move in a few weeks!

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  3. I love the post! Have a great weekend:)

    irinathayer.com

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  4. Great post! As a teacher myself, I love hearing the other side of things, especially what parents think. Lots of times teacher use youtube and such websites because we are pushed sooooo hard by administration to utitilize technology for nearly every lesson of the day. And maybe the teacher didn't realize that administration would bend the rules for your daughter on eating breakfast? Either way, I'm glad you came up with a solution for your daughter- mother always knows best! And your litle girl is just adorable.
    xx
    Courtney || https://courtneylivin.com/

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    1. After talking to the school counselor about all of my concerns, it turns out that basically everything this teacher told me is untrue... how she's still teaching, I have no clue.

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  5. I know nothing about children at all, but it seems like you did the right thing. Having a teacher lie to you almost instantly is a huge red flag, and if you don't think something is right for your child, that is completely your decision. Hopefully Utah will produce better pre-schools for you two!

    Indya || http://www.thesmalladventurer.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Yes! Keeping our fingers crossed for a program that is a better fit in a few weeks!

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    ReplyDelete