We don't have many options here in term of education for deaf children.The deaf schools will mainly use signs (they aim for total communication but most children will just sign ),there are some schools which use cued speech to help the children learn speech and that is pretty much it.
Since we have chosen CI and AV for Rhianna,we have been sending her to classes (music and reading) with normal hearing peers with no adaptation being done to support her hearing needs.But since we have carefully selected classes with small number of children (in reading class she only has one classmate and they team up very well to terrorize the teacher ;) )she has shown tremendous improvement with these classes.
Though her language is still delayed,she has developed a love for reading.Oh,she can sight read too.I initially thought that she just memorizes the story based on the pictures (she's like an elephant-remembers everything!) but her teacher demonstrated otherwise.She CAN sight read with or without the pictures...woohoo! Of course it's limited to the books and words that she has practised in class.Anyway,it's a good start to what I hope her lifelong love for books.
Back to the education option (or lack of options) story - We have started touring the private preschools in our areas.Our public schools currently do not offer any preschool services for children below 5 years old except for daycares.So, all of our children will attend private preschools and we have many many options with many many teaching methods...and the headache starts.
With her CI,listening challenges and language delay,we have many things to consider like the teacher to students ratio,the method used and the syllabus offered.
Most of these schools have between 16-24 students in a class.Rhianna could easily become invisible with 24 chattering 3 year olds and that would not help develop her self confidence and self esteem.
The method used and syllabus offered are pretty much the same with most schools but there is one particular school that caught our attention.
This school offers a classroom of only 8 students max with one teacher and two teachers for certain subjects like science and art where the children do a lot of hands on projects.Their syllabus is focused a lot on language and speaking skills and encouraging the children to explore the world around them to develop the love for learning.They use fastrack program from the US (of course!) and I'm totally in love with the smart board.It's like a HUGE iphone on the wall with many educational games!Rhianna still talks about the smart board and pretends to play it on our wall.
We love this school,Rhianna loves this school..problem solved, right? Wrong!
what about the fees?...it's almost 10K for the first year (uugh.. it was like a punch in the gut!).Well, it's not that bad, but she still has to attend her weekly therapies (all cost money),her reading and music classes and daycare (all cost money!)...I was actually planning to send her to dance class now that's not going to happen.
So Rhianna's team started discussing (and debating) and finally we reached a conclusion.
Since Rhianna is doing so well now,we have almost forgotten about her deafness and her daily struggles to listen.She actually NEEDs this school for its low student to teacher ratio to maximise her listening ability since no other adaptation is being made for her listening needs (no FM or sound field system).Hopefully they will help her build a good academic and social foundation for upcoming years.
So yes,we are taking the punch!She's all signed up for year 2011..
Kids Academy, here we come!!
p/s : she has a trial class next week and a holiday camp there next month.She'll start full blast come January 2011