Last week, before we left for California, Lucas, my mom and I went to visit the local early elementary D/HOH classroom. This is the classroom that the local D/HOH preschool feeds into by default. The classroom can serve students K-2, but this year there are 6 students, all in 1st grade, and none with cochlear implants. The school where the classroom is hosted is where my mom taught 2nd grade for the majority of her 36-year teaching career, so she came along to show off Lucas. :)
In general, I was more pleased with this classroom than the preschool classroom. It was less chaotic. Maybe it was because it was a classroom of 6 & 7 year olds, instead of 3 & 4 year olds. But, the physical environment of the classroom was better for hearing impaired children, in my opinion. There was a large rug under their desks, and little outside noise to compete with.
Again, Total Communication is the method of choice here, to accommodate all children. It was apparent that the classroom teacher, in addition to signing, emphasizes speech as she teaches, readily using Visual Phonics to illustrate speech sounds. It's useful for teaching reading, to illustrate that [c] is pronounced as a /k/ versus an /s/, for example. She lent me a video on it.
I came to the healthy conclusion that if Lucas belongs there, I will have no problem sending him there. I think it's a quality classroom for kids who need sign support. I will not push to mainstream him if he needs sign language to support his learning. We're hoping that that's not the case though.