Jack is in preschool this year. Another year of preschool. At the beginning of the year, I had mixed emotions about this. On one hand, I knew that we were doing the best thing for him by keeping him in preschool for one more year. Technically he could be in kindergarten this year, since he turned 5 over the summer. But we knew that he just wasn't ready. So we signed him up for a preschool class that is an "inclusion" classroom. There are 12-14 "typical" children and then there are 3 special ed kids. (I can't tell you how much it hurt to write that -- my kid is one of the special ed kids. I never thought that would be me. Moving on....) So, I was relieved that he would still be in preschool and have another year to gain some of the skills that he'll need for kindergarten. But, all of the other 5 year olds were going to kindergarten. Whenever we would tell someone how old Jack was, they would ask "are you ready for kindergarten this year?" And we would have to explain how we were doing another year of preschool. It was bittersweet.
The previous two years, Jack was in a special education preschool. He was in an environment that was completely catered to his needs. Every other kid in the classroom had special needs also. Last year, his class was all boys on the autism spectrum. The special attention was great. But this year, we had to move a little out of our comfort zone. Now we're dealing with a classroom that doesn't revolve around Jack and his needs. Like everything else, there are pros and cons with this. We are glad that he has the opportunity to be around typical kids and, in a sense, mimic their behavior. He can see how his peers react to certain situations and how his peers behave. I have yet to see very many positive effects of this - but I am hoping that they will show up eventually. Being in this classroom also means that there is less individualized attention for Jack. There are more kids that need the teachers' attention. The special education teacher isn't in the classroom for the entire class. But, we realize that this is a good "stepping stone" to mainstream kindergarten. Where there will (most likely) be even less individual attention. Less special treatment. We are relieved, though, that it looks like Jack will be attending a mainstream public elementary school. In the long run, I think that is a very positive thing.
Jack L-O-V-E-S school. Adores it. Thinks it is the best thing in the world. And this makes me very happy. I hope that he continues to feel this way (I know, I know...keep dreaming). He is growing in his social skills. He talks about his friends at school. He recalls things that he did during the day and can talk about them. He is in an afternoon class this year (was in morning classes the previous 2 years) and he just can't wait until lunch time, because he knows that the bus comes shortly after lunch. I don't know how we're going to survive winter break. :)