When we reached the point in her life when we had to leave her lovely nursery and find a school for Emma, the path was one well trodden. We asked around, we looked at ofsted reports, we made visits… all to get a better understanding of what was available and what we felt would best suit our daughter.
With Alex it’s been a little more… oh, you know… complicated. Emotional. And a little more finger-in-the-air too. There is not a lot of choice available. There is only one additional needs school in the town in which we live and Alex, with all his many and complex needs, cannot be crowbarred into a mainstream school. It would be unfair on him and also unfair on the school. We toyed with looking at other schools that were out of catchment, out of town and I agonised over this for quite some time. Would I be failing him by not looking at these schools? would I be letting my little boy down? Thankfully parents with similar children reminded me that Alex was still very small, very young and why not try the easy option first? When someone else puts it like that… Of course.
The available school is a good one, but it is small. When Alex starts school the next youngest child will be 6. As I have posted previously, he has thrived at his nursery, loving being surrounded by other children, watching what they do, interacting with them and just got used to being in a noisy, everyday situation. It has been so beneficial for him. We didn’t want to lose that. So we have gone for what is known as ‘inclusion’. The additional needs school will be his main school and the mainstream school across the car park – the one Emma attends – will have him for up to 1 day a week, and this time can be split over the week. This will mean he gets to join in with the fun activities, the non-academic ones, that are so important for a boy like him: play time, music time, story time, arts afternoons… all with the children his own age. Keeping him involved. It’s important for us not to hide him away in a corner, for our little boy – with all his disabilities – to access the world as much as he can, with whatever help is available, as much as is humanly possible. I am excited about his starting school now in a way that I definitely wasn’t when I first realised my boy, my baby, would be starting this September. He is ready I think, for all the new experiences that are coming his way… and we are catching him up.
I will be very ready Mummy, right after I’ve done some serious napping…