Last week we went to tour a school for the deaf. To be honest, I was a nervous wreck before we went in as I truly did not know what to expect...and when I get nervous, well, my sign language gets all 'hand tied.'
From the moment we walked in the door, my breath was taken away. The school was not what I was expecting! I imagined a school where nobody talked but the teachers (even though I knew the students were taught bilingually). We started with the preschool program. It is a Montessori program, which boogles my mind. I agree with it & all..but it seems like chaos to me. So against every way I was ever taught.
In preschool & kindergarten the school allows hearing children. They feel it is important for the hard of hearing and deaf children to be able to socialize and communicate with hearing children. All of the hearing children are hand picked for the program & they must know sign language. They are all CODAs, grandchildren of deaf, children of interpreters, etc. Walking into this room and watching everyone interact and play was amazing...you had no idea who was deaf & who was not. Same goes for the pre-k class we saw. All the teachers talk & sign and everything is done bilingually, so you really cannot not tell the difference in the children.
Once the children go to kindergarten, the hearing child must leave the school. Due to the fact that is much harder for deaf and hard of hearing children to read and write, they really hit it hard at this school come kindergarten.
We went to visit the kindergarten class made up of 3, profoundly deaf children. Shocked does not even describe how we were once we walked in this room. This room was so loud with chit chat! These 3 profound deaf children were not only signing to each other, but talking up a storm! They were reading at a 2nd grade level and their math skills (also hard because of reading concepts, etc) were above par...we were blown away.
We then went on to see the 1st & 2nd grade classes, each just as amazing as the previous. This school knew deaf, that is for sure. From the technology that they had throughout the school to match frequencies of hearing aids to the simple things like a green house..this place had it all.
This school knows deaf, what can I say. Things I had never thought about when it comes to a traditional school..like tile flooring. This school is all carpeted in order to help muffle other noises since hearing aids amplify all sounds.
Once our hour tour was over, we left knowing that this is were A will be...at least until 3rd grade. If he stays there until high school graduation or if he mainstreams, that will be determined on how he does & what he wants...but I can say, after the tour...we know this is the school for him! We want him to have the best education & to have all the opportunities in the world. This school, well, I feel like they will give him all that & more. Just as we wish to teach him that there is nothing he will not be able to do..this school will only help reinforce that.
I am excited to see how he blossoms & what will happen once he is in school (minus the fact that I already cry at that thought of sending him to school!)