August 25, 2010

(Preschool) Lessons Learned

This summer, my 3 1/2 year old twin boys did a three week session of preschool, a mini introduction of what to expect come September when they "officially" start. (If you ask them, they will tell you they are now on summer vacation. That's right, 21 hours of preschool has given them the right to be on break.) We've opted to send them to our town's intergrated preschool as model peers, both because of our own confidence in Hadley's integrated experience and because it's what Conor and Brady selected. I was looking forward to the practice, not out of concern for their transition but rather to help me improve on getting three kids ready and out of the door on time!

While this particular integrated preschool is new to me (Hadley went to preschool in our old town), it's located in the same building where Hadley did K-2, so it's familiar territory to all of us. Conor and Brady got off without a hitch. I'm always on hyper alert when I'm out with my sons for security's sake, so I usually don't have a moment to talk to the other adults. After the first week or so, we were into the routine and I could stand down on my guard a (slight) bit. When I used to wait for Hadley at preschool, I'd join in on conversations about therapies or juggling doctor's appointments: the general topics of raising a child with different needs. This time around, as I looked around the clusters of parents, I realized that, to them, I'm not Hadley-the-girl-with-hearing-aids' mom. None of them know that I've lived through this before with an identified child. The point was really hammered home when one of the teachers very nicely offered to tell me a little more about integrated education and the general needs of some of the kids. For a split second, I kind of felt that the badge I've earned with the years of services with Hadley had been stripped away. I know about this! Really, I know!

So, off we start on the preschool journey for two typically developing boys. It's strange not to be thinking about team meetings or accommodations, prepping the staff on equipment, or evaluating the classroom for any challenges to a good listening environment. And, even though I'm doing it with two kids instead of one (and at the risk of jinxing myself), I'll say it: this is a piece of cake. I keep double checking to see if I've forgotten something, because this is all too easy. You mean all I have to do is send them in with a snack and pick them up on time? With pleasure!

Third grade starts for Hadley next week. She has her teacher assignment, the sound field system is in place in the classroom, and her backpack is already stocked with hearing aid tools and supplies. Conor and Brady start preschool in two weeks. They have their backpacks, snack bags, and extra bag of clothes. Bring on September!

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