Well over a year ago, while I was pregnant with Hank we looked at some preschools for Goldie. I did this as part of the transition process when she turned 3. I didn't see a place that I loved, so we decided to utilize some community programs this year and revisit the preschool options when she was turning 4.
I began my search anew in February when I saw that a Montessori school was having an open house. It was nice, but it seemed like there would be a lot of rules for Goldie to remember and the room had a lot of furniture for her to navigate around. Goldie also learns best in an environment that is free of visual clutter. I spoke with the teacher and explained what Goldie's strengths and weaknesses were. I did not tell her my daughter has Down syndrome. In my experience, it brings up too many stereotypes.
The school's only tuition option was for 5 days a week, so I decided to keep looking. It would cost us a fortune in gas to make 10 trips a week! My next call was to my neighbor. Her kids went to a Montessori school that was 5 minutes away, but only advertises by word-of-mouth. She was happy to call the owner and talk to her about Goldie.
The owner, Miss M, has really exceeded all of my expectations. She has met Goldie one-on-one twice and has had me observe the classroom one morning by myself. Before I sat in on a class, she told me "I don't want you to get overwhelmed and think that Goldie can't do this, because she CAN." Miss M. has asked me to bring Goldie once a week for 1/2 just to get her used to the classroom and allow them to get to know her. I must have looked a little nervous because she assured me that Goldie will be going to school there as long is that is what I want. The plan right now is for Goldie to attend two mornings a week in the fall and maybe add a third day after the Christmas break.
A couple months ago I was asking myself, "Am I crazy to think that my child with Down syndrome can go to a typical preschool without an IEP and supports?". But, after seeing Goldie in the classroom and feeling the kindness of the students and teachers, I know Goldie will just blossom at school next year. She is already requesting "school" on a daily basis.