When I look back to Zoya starting preschool almost a year ago, I seriously cannot believe how far she has come! Last summer, we started with Zoya going to the program just 1 day a week to slowly ease her in. If there's anything we know about Zoya, it's that she needs changes to happen slowly :) You can read about her first day HERE. We were off to a good start but by the 2nd week we ran into some separation anxiety. You can read about those troubles HERE. Looking back on those posts, it is clear to me that Zoya is a much more confident child today than she was when she started preschool. Her anxiety has greatly decreased and her independence is blooming! I look back to that scared child who held my legs and cried when I left her at school, almost in disbelief! Now she gets so excited for school, practically jumps in the car and out when we get to school and hits the ground running. Some days I have to remind her to give me a hug/kiss goodbye because she gets so excited when she gets to her classroom! Zoya still has her needy moments, don't get me wrong, but she is a completely different child today than she was a year ago!
So if it all went so great this year, why would we want to change her placement? We've had our eyes on the Montessori program since we started discussing options for Zoya. There are some things about a Montessori approach that will be absolutely fabulous for Zoya, and others that make us wonder if she will do well with this approach or not. You can read more about the pros and cons for Montessori for kiddos with special needs HERE. Most everything at that link sums up why we think Montessori would be good for Zoya. If it worked out for Zoya, she could potentially spend the next 3 years in the same classroom, and we love that thought! We also love the idea of Montessori because our ultimate goal for Zoya (besides being happy) is to be as independent as possible and Montessori really fosters independence. Shawn and I both had the opportunity to visit the classroom and take Zoya for visits to see how she did in that program. We were blown away by what we saw. I'm a teacher, and I can say that the way this room ran simply blew me away! We were pleasantly surprised with how well Zoya did too. Now, obviously, we know that if this program doesn't seem to mesh with Zoya after several months, then we can always go back to what we know has worked, in a typical preschool classroom. But we both just feel that this is a fabulous opportunity for Zoya and if we don't try then we'll never know :)
So most of Zoya's IEP was spent discussing this transition, along with all of her amazing accomplishments this year, and of course writing goals for next school year!
As Zoya's fourth birthday approaches, my heart feels pulled in two directions....celebrating all our little girl has accomplished in the two short years she's been home with us, but then also recongnizing the fact that for sure, had she not come home with us, she'd be facing transfer within the month, to an adult mental institution. How do I know this? Because her baby home is closing, so even if she was one of the lucky kids who could stay at her orphanage until 5 years old, that would not be the case for Zoya with the closing of her orphanage. As I sat at her IEP meeting I thanked God for all the opportunities he has provided Zoya with, knowing all along, how different it could have turned out for her (and us). We are so grateful God led us to our sweet girl. Big things are ahead for Zoya!