Today Kelsey started pre-school!
Look at that cutie! 🙂
Kelsey has been receiving four different types of therapy from our county services since she was born. When you turn 2 and 9 months, you qualify to enter a school-based pre-school or you can continue with your at-home therapy. We decided, at 2 and 10 months old, to have Kelsey attend the ECSN (Early Childhood Special Needs) class.
This was not an easy decision. At first, I was so excited to have her start. I knew the class she’d be in…it would be the same class Ben was in when he was 2 and 11 months old (and for three years after that). With the same wonderful teacher and (most of) the same wonderful therapists. The same teachers and therapists who threw us a baby shower after Kelsey was born.
Really it was a no brainer. Kelsey is FINALLY ready to learn. She’s still little and doesn’t HAVE to be in school, but she is finally engaging with her therapists. Finally starting to pick up on some developmental line-items that her therapists have been dying to check off for years!
So…great teachers, great school and a kiddo ready to learn? Sign me up. What’s to lose?!
A nap. Yep, this fabulous class that Kelsey qualifies for takes place from 1:15-3:45pm. And currently Kelsey usually sleeps most days from 1-4pm. ACK! The nap! The sacred nap! How could we possibly give up the nap?!?
Forget about the fact that it gives me a break from Kelsey’s special needs. Forget even that it gives me a break from staying at home with any two year old, special needs or not! Kelsey has had a stroke, hydrocephalus, four brain surgeries and epilepsy. If she’s taking a three hour nap, it’s probably because she (and her brain) needs one, don’t ya think?
When we heard about the class being in the afternoon, I gave a pretty hard and immediate “no” to the idea. We would have to figure something else out. I felt like Kelsey was “done” with home therapy (and so was I). I felt like she was ready for more than I could give her. I thought she was ready for socialization and growth. But I didn’t think she was ready to give up that three hour nap. I definitely wasn’t ready.
I worried, too, that if I forced her to miss a nap three days a week, that she might start to reject her nap on the days at home (please, no!). Also, she’s a tough one to entertain. She doesn’t like a lot of age-appropriate activities, crafts or play. She doesn’t love to sit and listen at the library, a music class or other similar things people fill their toddler’s time with. So without therapy to fill our mornings, how would I keep her entertained (but not overly tired) until school started at 1?
So we talked about it and decided to research other options. Maybe a typical, morning pre-school on top of home therapy? Maybe a situation where therapists would meet her at a typical school to service her? It would only be for a year, until she turned four (the fours class meets in the morning). But the more I looked at schools and thought about it, the more I knew we had to go for the ECSN class.
Kelsey is very needy. With almost no language and the fact that she chooses to crawl 98% of the time over walk with her walker, I didn’t know how a typical school would be able to handle her. She’s not as constantly cranky anymore, so that helps, but I could definitely see her falling through the cracks very quickly.
Ben went to a local church preschool when he turned 3, as well as the ECSN class. A developmental pediatrician told us that he should never only be in an all special needs class. He needed to see and hear typical kids interacting to learn from them. But Ben was walking (although unsteadily) and talking and signing (at least on a functional basis). So it worked to go to a “regular” school two days a week as well as the “special” class on the two (or three) opposite days.
I just didn’t see how Kelsey would thrive in a typical program. Many people get a little afraid of Kelsey. She takes a long time to warm to people and if she senses fear, she whines and retreats from interactions. And then people (family, therapists and friends alike) tend to avoid her or interactions with her. I don’t blame them. I avoid her when she’s super cranky too! 😉
All of this made me realize that we would have to risk losing the nap to be able to have Kelsey in the most appropriate setting. And that place is Winfield Elementary. Our “home” school and a place our family has been so happy with for five years.
Things moved pretty quickly after that decision and we were all excited for Kelsey to start school this afternoon. Ben is SUPER excited to have her at school with him. He’s even said a few times, “and now you’ll get to have a little break, Mom!” How sweet!
Today I took Kelsey to school, but eventually she will ride a bus. The bus will have car seats and will help with transporting her walker, which is very appreciated. The bus is the bus many of us, me included, made fun of when we were teenagers. Hopefully we’ve all become a little more aware of differences and celebrating them in this day-and-age, but I’m not naive. Luckily Kelsey is only almost-three and won’t have worry about teasing or ignorance for a bit…I hope.
It’s not the bus that Ben rides, though. Which means I will spend almost an hour of my day waiting for busses to pick up and drop off my kids! Thank goodness I’m able to be at home with them for all the transporting.
Because it’s March 14th. And because it was 1pm. And because it was raining, the drop-off for the first day of school for Kelsey didn’t have a lot of fanfare like the first day of school in August does. I got her dressed, took a quick picture, and off we went.
It wasn’t until I was back in the car when the first day of school tears came. You see when I got to the class, an angel was waiting for us and it all occurred to me once I had a second to process it all. I figured Kelsey would be a little confused with the new setting, faces and routine, but I thought she’d be ok…especially today when she didn’t know what to expect.
When we got to her class, our favorite babysitter…the same one who was Ben’s student teacher in kindergarten…the same one who babysat on Saturday night…and the same one who now works at Winfield…was waiting for Kelsey to arrive. She doesn’t work in what will be Kelsey’s class and she didn’t mention she’d be there, but she came and was waiting for her. She helped bring in her walker. She bent down and was helping Kelsey (and me!) to feel comfortable. And so I left feeling like everything would be just fine. And like I said, in the car I realized that some times an angel shows up when you least expect it. And I’m so thankful for that…and her…and all the teachers and therapists who will help my Kelsey be the best she can be!