Sunday, June 14, 2015

Prepping for Preschool

I started looking at preschools the moment we moved to Colorado.  I've had dreams of her attending this cute, private school on the mountain side- open ended play, an organic garden, chickens, a tractor, hiking paths, teepees, and a massive sand box. Most importantly, the classrooms have a small 1:4 ratio (teacher:child) and they pride their success on parental involvement! See how one could get carried away in thoughts of that kind of "happy?" I've struggled with sealing Mila a place in Fall enrollment.  As wonderful as the school appear to be, they are a private entity.  Meaning, they are not obligated to provide Mila the services she'll need to function in a classroom.  I'm not implying they wouldn't access services for her, but they couldn't guarantee anything.  Ultimately, they could require ME to be her assistant in the classroom.  I really hope her teachers will always allow me to be a part of her classroom.  However, attending school as her assistant-nurse-therapist, is not ideal.  I am with her all day-every day.  The exciting, bittersweet part of this transition is allowing Mila to thrive in a social environment without me.

After much discussion with her therapists and Michael, we feel very positive about her attending public preschool.  With public schools, they are mandated by the state to provide services for children with disabilities.  Mila will probably qualify for an IEP- Individualized Education Plan-which means she will have an assessment with the school board to determine what services she'll need to function in the classroom.  She will have her assessment with our school district next month.  We're hoping it will be a positive experience without any "mama bear" moments.  As a parent, you want to entrust your children will be cared for and protected.  I know my reservations about leaving Mila in the hands of others, who don't know her, are completely normal.

Will there be someone to walk along side her as she navigates her walker in a new environment?- her perception of distance isn't always spot on :)

Who will help her get in and out of her desk or chair at the table?

Is there someone who can help her safely navigate the playground equipment?

Will someone console her when other kids are screaming or crying?- these sounds make her very upset.  We typically hug and sing our way through those moments.

How will they help Mila work around her sensory aversions?- food, grass, sand, other surfaces/textures

I know it will take time for them to learn who Mila is; what she loves/hates, how she learns best, what motivates her, etc.  There will be an adjustment period for all of us.  It is my job as her mom and advocate to be involved, be assertive, ask questions, offer advice, and be supportive of those who are helping to carve Mila's path in life.

In the meantime,  we are mentally preparing ourselves for celebrating her 3rd birthday and all the changes to come!  I was so hopeful Mila would be walking independently by now, but unfortunately her fear of risk taking, has hindered her progression.  It has taken me a while, but I have learned to respect her fears.  Mila works on her own agenda and cannot be forced into doing anything.  She will walk when she is ready to do so :).

In the meantime, we're celebrating our small victories:

  • Mila is standing by herself a lot; without holding on to anything.  
  • She is saying "dada" and "bu-bu" 126532764 times a day.  Sometimes we even hear a "tha" and a "la." As much as I would love for her to talk; babbling is sweet music to our ears.
  • She has re-learned how to crawl onto some furniture (it was a previous skill lost), and seems to do it more frequently
  • Mila seems to be more engaged in "play."  She can be very attentive with great eye contact.
  • She is transitioning (while holding on) between objects really well.  She's not afraid to cruise in the garage or out in the community.
  • Her bear crawl is becoming more of a mastered skill.  She's walked six or so steps on her hands and feet.
  • She is very enthusiastic about letters.  If she sees words on anything, she is quick to point to each one, and wanting us to say the letters out loud.
  • My girl LOVES sign language.  We know pretty much every sign for farm animals-her favorite.  Anytime she sees pictures of animals, she points and looks to us for the action.
  • I am still unsure of Mila's aversions with food, however, mealtime has become more pleasurable.  She is getting better about using her five senses to become more comfortable with unfamiliar foods.  She has recently eaten and enjoyed carrot and cucumber sticks :)
  • Music reigns as her biggest motivation.  Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" are two of her current favorites :)  Don't worry though, "Shake It Off" still gets my girl moving like no other.

"Hanging Lake"-one of the most beautiful hikes we've ever done