As we prepare Joey for kindergarten, we are looking into the large question of what does an appropriate school program look like for Joey?
So far, Joey appears to be around grade level. He knows his letters and numbers, can answer questions about a story, and asks his own questions in his own way. He understands early phonics skills, and tends to learn new information quickly.
Of course, all of this knowledge he demonstrates through his eye gaze device, or from being given an answer field of two to three choices and asked to choose one, either with his eyes or his hand.
What educational setting will set Joey up for the most long-term success?
If Joey begins school in a program that does not expect him to master grade-level material, will he have time to catch up later in his educational career?
Joey requires unique physical support to make academic progress, but does needing significant and unique physical support mean that a child is not able to access a general education classroom? If Joey is able to access a general education classroom, how much support will he need?
If Joey is in a small group setting, will he be exposed to grade level peers’ higher level thinking? Will he be asked questions that reflect a spectrum on Bloom’s taxonomy, and will others expect him to make academic gains as though he is a typical kindergartener.
How do we support children who can access grade level content, but require such unique interventions so that they can demonstrate their ability?
As a broader public school system, we are still working on answering this question.
Every time a child misses opportunities for grade-level instruction so that they can be remediated, accommodated, or given modified instruction, they miss an opportunity for growth. This puts them even further behind their peers, and makes it more difficult to catch up. But including a child with significant needs in an active, large, general education classroom has its own drawbacks as well.
The greatest question leads us to ask, “What is the least dangerous assumption?”