Finding the Right Preschool for Your Child With Developmental Delays/Disabilities
Updated: May 21
Child Find is not the one and only school option for your child with developmental delays/disabilities. You may also want to consider private and charter school options. Our Child Find Program initially placed our daughter in a program with 19 other children in a special education program, with 1 teacher and 1 aide (a 2:19 ratio). (More on the Child Find process here.) This was not acceptable for us, and we know our daughter would not thrive in such environment.
We looked into private school options and found a classroom with 16 neurotypical children, 2 teachers, and 1 aide (a 3:16 ratio). The school has three other children with developmental delays/disabilities attending, who receive private therapy at school and/or take the bus to a public school take advantage of their Child Find therapies. And the staff was open (and eager) to taking Continuing Education Courses about our daughter's conditions and related support.
Our daughter is three and will be starting with the two year olds at this school until she is ready to move to the "threes" room. We've been working super hard in her private, community therapies (since her Early Intervention Program services ended) to get her ready to be in a preschool classroom with neurotypical children (walking independently, feeding independently, and potty training) this fall. We're so excited for her!
Home school is also an option. Click here for state-by-state home school options and regulations. Contact your child's school district for more information.
For parents of children with more medically complex needs, you may want to consider hospital- or home-based instruction through your state's Hospital Homebound (HHB) program, like the programs in California and Nevada. In some states you may even be eligible to be paid for providing home school to your child.
After weighing the pros and cons of public, private, and charter schools, going through Child Find, researching charter school options, and touring several private schools, we found the right fit for us. (We hope!) Here's a chart with the various school types (public, private, and charter) and their general pros and cons to consider during your search for the right school for your child with special needs.
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"So teach us something worth knowing,
Bring us back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot..."
― Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone