17 July, 2019

In this article, Ida tells us about her son Sigge’s year in preschool class. It was a long process to find a class in special education school, but after a tough start it turned out really good!

Otto and Sigge sitting on a bench
Otto and Sigge!

Who are you in your family?

We are the parents Ida and Per, and our kids Sigge, 6 years old and Otto, 4 years old. We have also got a cat, Bengt Martin, who lives with us.

What have you experienced this first school year?

Sigge started preschool class this fall, in the special education school at Frölundaskolan in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was a very tough process to find a preschool class in a special education school. There is a new law that says that preschool class is mandatory, but in Gothenburg it is not common with preschool class in special education school. It took nine months and a lot of energy to find a preschool class for Sigge, and we did not know if it was worth all the work and arguing to get one.

We found out that our local school system actually is pretty messy. Everyone gave us different information and we got a strong feeling that we were annoying, that the best thing would have been if we just let Sigge stay one extra year in preschool. Then it would not have been the school’s problem to fix it.

Another thing we worried about was that Sigge would go to school by taxi. It felt very scary to send him away with people who we do not know, since he can not report back to us. But after this first year I am glad to tell that it has been great. It is often the same staff and driver, and we have never experienced any problem.

Sigge really likes the taxi. I think it is like a break for him, so he can rest a little between school and home.

In our city they have now changed the rules for school transport, and since they do not take the needs of a child in special education school in consideration, Sigge may lose his taxi transport. We are waiting for more information about this, and we are very worried since the taxi is one very important routine that makes it work so well with school.

Sigge wearing an orange jacket, riding a blue bike
Sigge!

What were your thoughts before the school start?

Sigge does not speak that much, and we were really sure that we wanted him to go in a special education school and not integrated. For us it was probably about a feeling that we did not want him to feel bad. We have seen children having troubles since they did not get the chance to start special education school, and we did not want that to happen to Sigge.

We also did not want to feel like we have to fight for resources, which we sometimes have done at preschool. We were looking for a safe environment that did not depend on individuals who might quit their job, get sick or something else that then would disturb the routines. Many of those wishes were based on our earlier experiences. We also wanted Sigge to have access to more special education than he would get with an extra year in preschool.

In the end he got to start in a local special education school and after a tough start it turned out so good. He has developed in a way I could not imagine. What is most noticeable is the talking, we have now got a child who communicates by speech! He has also grown in other ways and you can tell that he really likes his school. When we were at the opening ceremony of the school’s new facilities, Sigge proudly presented us to everyone and enjoyed showing us his school.

The fact that Sigge was very little, but had to change to another school environment where the kids are expected to take care of more things themselves, was tough for us parents. Losing so much connection with those who are with your child throughout the days was hard, especially since Sigge could not report back to us. Sigge did not like it in the beginning, it was the first time ever he showed dissatisfaction like that. We doubted a lot and it was very difficult to see him sad, and we started to hesitate regarding our decision. But it all turned around when things started to fall into place, and now things just work great!

I guess we did not have so much expectations before Sigge started preschool class, but we hoped that he would develop with the special education competencies in the classroom and so it became! It is great that he has a new context where he thrives, and where he learns things in groups with others.

Do you have any tips for other families before starting school?

Dare to argue! I know that many people have the same problem we had – getting the right to preschool class in a special education school. I am grateful now that we really argued about it! Why should children who need more time, risk to lose a whole year by starting first grade immediately? We are very pleased that Sigge goes to a special education school, there is a lot of staff, lots of resources for excursions for example, and Sigge feels really good about having a customized learning.

Sigge shows us something new everyday that he has learned in school. For example, he has started to sing, imitate and count. And he plays a lot more together with us.

Another tip is to ask how the communication between school and home is meant to work. We have noticed that the communication sometimes isn’t that well taken care of, and I feel like we still have to work with this a bit more together with the school.

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