We have completed tours of each of our preschool options, and would like to share a brief description of each. Please feel free to leave a comment on your observations. We certainly have formed our opinions, and have made a selection, but I am curious what you think of each of these programs.
Five day a week, 9 am - 1 pm mainstream classroom setting with 14 hearing peers. Hearing impaired children are an addition to the preschool program and are supported in the room with one teacher of the deaf. (If three hearing impaired children enroll there are 17 children in the class; if six enroll there are 20, and so on.) The class is for three year old's, so regardless of the HI child's actual age, they will be in a classroom with three year old's.
The classroom itself is large, with multiple carpet and tile surfaces, making acoustics rather loud. There are multiple stations to engage the child in dramatic play, arts & crafts, building blocks, etc.
There is no clear classroom schedule, with the focus of the school being more of a "Montessori" type, where the children select the activity they wish to do whenever they wish to do it. The day begins with one hour of open play followed by thirty minutes of play in the large muscle room. Snack time is not conducted as a group, but at the child's leisure. There is only one circle time, which is conducted at the end of the day for ten minutes of music or story. The hearing impaired children, however, are pulled to the side of the classroom individually for calendar, weather and an opening story before they can begin playing in the classroom.
The program does provide audiological support through Ohio State University, and can offer physical or occupational therapy if needed.
The hearing impaired children stay after the typical day ends, which is at 11:30 am, for a focused group exercise with the TOD and lunch with the hearing impaired children together.
This preschool is unique in the fact that it brings together a mainstream preschool setting and an deaf oral education program in one building. So, the hearing impaired children are in self contained classrooms in the morning, where they receive their primary education and speech and language services. In the afternoon, the hearing impaired children move the the mainstream preschool classrooms.
The oral school is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, (from 9:15 am to 2:15 pm) and have their mainstream preschool on Tuesday afternoons (12:45 pm to 3:15 pm). The schedule of where the child will be each day is a bit confusing, and seems to be frequently changed based on enrollment. The daily routine includes circle time, with calendar and weather, as well as story time. Each child also has his/her own notebook that travels between home and school with the current lesson plans, homework, and happenings in the child's life that can be discussed at school.
The children range in age from three to five years old in the oral classrooms. There is no clear progression in the program. At the discretion of the director, the placement for the child is determined based on language and social skills. There are two oral classrooms at the school. The oral preschool program has between 2 and 3 students in each classroom, with no hearing peers. The teachers have a general education degree, but without a concentration or focus on deaf education. The speech and auditory therapy is provided for 90 minutes weekly as a pull out of the classroom, and is individual. There is no nap time in the program.
There is a clear daily schedule for this program, including table talk, circle time, themed project surrounding holidays, stories and authors, etc. The teachers create individual activities for the children to help with fine and gross motor skills, even though on-site occupational or physical therapy is not offered. Both oral classrooms have lunch together daily, providing an environment of about six hearing impaired children for language enrichment.
The oral preschool classrooms are small, carpeted, well lit and have sound field in them. The mainstream classrooms are larger, but carpeted, or there are tennis balls on the chairs to reduce noise in the areas where there is tile flooring. There is a clear indication that the mainstream preschool has made significant improvement to the acoustics of a typical preschool in order to help the hearing impaired children.
This oral preschool program is offered five days a week, from 8:53 am to 3:00 pm. The program has between six and eight hearing impaired children in each classroom, with the addition of two hearing peers to the "Preschool 2" classrooms. The teachers in all of the classrooms have a concentration in deaf education.
There is a clear schedule and routine for the day, including speech therapy, daily auditory training using the DASL curriculum. There is also on-site occupational or physical therapy, if that would be needed, as well as an on-site audiologist and testing booth. The day begins with circle time, including calendar, weather and a morning message, where the basic principles of literacy are presented. Snack times are conducted as a classroom, providing a rich opportunity for language. They also do a daily math activity, story time, and have an afternoon nap.
This program includes "specials" each week, including art, music, cooking, library, and for Preschool 2, gym.