Monday, I spent my morning visiting schools. Katya's current school asked that we visit several Multiple Disabilities classrooms in the area and consider whether or not placement in one of them would be a better fit for her in the 2013/2014 school year.
So after dropping Katya off as early as we could at school, Paul and I journeyed in separate vehicles to meet up with the school psychologist at her office, since he was going to need to leave to head to his out of town job before the morning was done. And while I could hitch a ride back to the office, I still needed my own wheels to get home. I parked my vehicle, and jumped in with Paul and we followed the psychologist to the first school, quite a little ways away from our home. The school was old, small, and very laid back.
When we arrived, we only had to state what our business there was, and were allowed to walk right down the hall to the classroom. The classroom was large, very bright and cheerful, with lots and lots of toys, books and puzzles all over the room attractively and neatly arranged. Several little boys were sitting at the table eating breakfast. I glanced at the clock, and noted that at Katya's current school, all the kiddos would be working by that time of the morning, breakfast having been eaten already.
The teacher and aid offered some information. It went something like this:
"We try to teach them to at least read and write their first and last names--if they can't do both, then at least their first. They might have to trace them . . . "
Our response: "Katya alread reads and writes free-hand first, middle and last."
Their eyes widen and jaws slack a bit.
Their statement: "We try to teach them to at least write their numbers one to ten, if they can manage that."
Our response: "Katya does 1 to 10, and is currently learning 11 to 20." Again, the surprised reaction.
Their comment: "We try to teach them to write the letters of the alphabet, even if they have to trace them."
Our retort: "Katya writes all the letters, upper and lower case free hand, and is starting to learn to read some simple words." More wide-eyed, slack jawed responses.
Our question: "Can you help her advance and learn even if she is ahead of all the other kids in the room?" "Well, yes, we work with each child individually . . . " said rather weakly did NOT inspire our confidence.
Before we were even done there at the school, it was clear to both Paul and me that we could NOT in good conscience send Katya to this classroom. Clearly, she would have been advanced beyond all the other kids in the room, and since she learns a lot by watching and following other kiddos, we knew this was not a good plan for her. It appeared to be a glorified baby sitting program--we believe Katya is capable of far more than that.
Also, the current teacher is retiring, and no one knows yet who will be taking her place next year. NOT a good option for Katya who needs to meet the teacher THIS year, and start getting a feel for the classroom. Not a good option for this Mommy and Daddy who don't want a "unknown" teacher for our daughter.
Since we had prayed and asked for God to give us clear guidance and direction, we felt clearly that He had answered that prayer, and made it VERY easy for us to strike one option right off the list. BAM. Done. "Thank you, God!"
To be continued . . .