After taking the summer off, we’re trying to get back into our blogging groove. We had a very eventful summer that distracted us from our weekly ventings.
Our local ABA therapist was approached by a private school to start a program for children with special needs. She made the mistake of mentioning this opportunity to us and now we’ve roped her into something that has taken on a life of its own.
There are lots of programs in our community for children on the spectrum. But we realized what is lacking is a program that is uniquely tailored to each child. There are so many children falling through the cracks right now. Some are falling behind because they are in a self-contained classroom where the teacher has to teach to the lowest academic level in the room. Others are falling behind because they are in a regular classroom and the work moves at a pace where the children just can’t keep up.
Children are being moved along with major holes and skill deficits that are only going to hold them back more and more as time goes on.
Our other frustration was that our children are above grade level in some areas and yet behind in others. We want them to keep moving forward in their strength areas while having a chance to catch up in the areas where they struggle. However, teachers who have 20+ students are simply not able to accommodate this need.
Our third major frustration was that the school systems don’t seem to believe in our children’s potential the way we do. We have not written off our children. We want them to have the same learning and career opportunities as everyone else.
What were we to do? Start our own school! So that’s what we did this summer. It’s a pilot program, and we hope and pray it will be successful.
Here are the ideals of our program, straight from our brochure:
We recognize that every child is unique and that an academic program must be tailored for each individual child. We help students achieve their full potential by offering a smaller, hands-on, interactive, non-traditional learning environment.
There are no reduced expectations for our students. We teach the same material as traditional schools, but we teach it in a way that matches our students’ individual learning styles so that they are met with academic success instead of frustration and feelings of failure.
Our program equips students with the confidence and study/organizational skills to successfully transition to a traditional school, if desired.
Our pilot program is for elementary age students. However, we hope to start middle and high school programs soon.
So we’d like to know… have any of you out there taken on this same challenge? We’d like to learn from you. What were the biggest challenges? What were your lessons learned? What do you wish you would have known before starting this adventure? Any advice you can offer us would be greatly appreciated.
We are learning as we go along. Truth be told, we’re winging it. Sometimes we fear we’re in over our heads. We just have to have faith that our love for our children and our sheer tenacity will see us through. Thanks in advance for your help!