Saturday, October 20, 2012

Natalie's new school

(Back to blogging...)

Natalie started school at Ohio Valley Voices, August 21st. They are a moog centered program and children with hearing aids and cochlear implants learn spoken language here. The serve kids from birth through 2nd grade.

I can't believe she has been in 2 months already! We love it so far and so does she. She attends M-F 8:30-12:00. She is in the "Family Center" program which is ages 18 months - 3 years old. They divide the 11 kids in that class in half, so the older 6 kids are the ones Natalie mainly is around each day, besides the morning and goodbye circle time. In her classroom, they have 2 teachers, 2 teacher aides, 2 speech therapists and the family center coordinator. Everyones jobs are very specific and the day flows very well. She is assigned 1 of the speech therapists (Megan) throughout the year.

In addition to her daily school schedule, I meet with her Speech therapist Megan weekly for parent ed sessions. These last about 30-45 minutes and we meet every monday. We talk about what they work on in therapy throughout the week. We also have monthly parent group meetings with the parents and once a month we go into the classroom for an hour to observe and see what they went over for the theme that month. It is very involved but we like it that way.

The day flows very well. With all the teachers and therapists, it is generally a 2:1 or 3:1 student:teacher ratio. We love the direct learning she is receiving because of this. Every day, each child is pulled out by their speech therapist from anywhere between 25-50 minutes (depending on the child) for one-on-one therapy. This is equivalent to what Natalie received in NC at our home, but it was just 1 hour weekly sessions then.

Each morning when the kids are dropped off, the staff is trained to check the each kids equipment (hearing aids or cochlear implants.) We have Natalie's backup processors in her backpack every day. They take off each processor in the morning one she arrives and checks them to make sure they are sounding ok. They also have an on staff audiologist there full time; Stephanie. We are using her more for the maintenance stuff, if things come up. (one day, Natalie's remote control for her CI's froze up, so Stephanie was able to get a new one replaced through our manufacturer.) It is nice to not have to worry about doing any of that on my own. She also pulls Natalie in the sounds booth every so often to do an audiogram. We are seeing an audiologist for Natalie's mappings (6 month checkups on her hearing and changing the programs on her processors) at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital. I just felt more comfortable doing the mappings with an audiologist that sees a larger volume of children. OVV only has 30+ kids attending right now.

The first day I got to come with her and we only came for 90 minutes. This was more getting acquainted with the classroom and her teachers. The next day she was off, the next day she went by herself (and did great!) and then was off again. The following week she was on a regular schedule.

There are 2 areas of her classroom. They have a main area that is set up like a pretend house and then the other room is a theme room that changes monthly. A lot of their vocabulary is based around this theme and all of their projects they do incorporate this as well.

Here is a picture of the main area: They have a separate space for the living room, kitchen, laundry bedroom, bathroom and outdoors.

this picture was taken prior to school starting, so all of their props weren't quite up yet.
Note: See the real goldfish in the fishbowl?
 They staggered us on the first day, so only 6 kids came out of the 11 in her age group. We just played and got to know everyone a bit better. And they loved snack time.
friends of Natalie: Mac, Asees, Filip and Alexander (Juliana not pictured)

When we first got there, after about 10 minutes I think Natalie thought I was going to leave her. So she ran over to Jessica (teacher aide) and ran right up into her arms and wanted her to hold her. It was so cute. (Natalie tends to find one person she always does this with, whether it was at church or child watch at the YMCA, she always made sure she had 1 person that she would feel safe with.)

Jessica and Natalie

Megan (speech therapist, Asees and Jessica)

This is the sensory table and it changes up with the theme in this room about monthly. Always a favorite for the kids!

They have this large tree house tent in the corner of the theme room. It is darling and all the kids love it. Natalie decided she would bring all her toys and projects into it the first day since it was that cool.

Official 1st day of school pictures for her.. (hasn't she changed a ton Jenni?)

Every day, we get a daily report in her backpack of how she was (cheerful, happy, tired) what they had for snack time (the school provides) and what activities they worked on and her favorite thing that day. It is nice to get a daily report. Also twice a month, our regional infant hearing loss teacher (provided by the state birth - 3 years) goes to Natalie's school and plays and interacts with her for 1 hour. I get a detailed report of that too.

More blogging to come... on her monthly themes!

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