I'm not sure how the new school does fire drills, but it didn't come up as a problem this year; perhaps he was just used to it. I don't remember how it was handled it K, but they did have some solution.
Yes, fire drills completely freaked my daughter out. She'd talk for weeks after it about how loud and scary it was and kept asking if we were going to have a fire. Just as she seemed to be over it, they'd go and have another one. It's nice to find people whose children have felt the way mine has. It feels much less intimidating. So is having just 2 classes per grade really enough to help your child? I hope he continues to do well there.
Ds said the same things about the drills/fire in K. I do try to explain the "why" of things which is working better as he gets older; I think, at the time, I tried telling him that "fire drills" help everyone leave the building at the same time fast without anyone getting lost--and I came up with some non-fire examples, such as when a water pipe broke open over dh's desk and everyone had to leave because their feet were getting wet (I didn't mention the dangers of a flood in a comm room). He can be sensitive to smells, which usually results in him complaining about them loudly.
At the same time that ds started at the charter, he started treatment for the ADHD and had the OT eval so we had more information to work with in helping him at school. And the scale of his charter is smaller, "cozier" (the elementary school has it's own wing) and he has a better relationship with the staff--had a super teacher last year. He still has issues, but is dealing with them better overall.
To clarify something --
My DD is a former homeschooler and the sh*t hit the fan for her while homeschooling. She was dx'ed with clinical depression while she was still a homeschooler. It was actually part of the reason we decided to do something different, like school.
I don't want any one to read this and think that I put my perfectly happy homeschooling child in school and she became depressed and anxious. My child was extremely Not Happy during her last months/year of homeschooling. It was a situation where any decent parent would change things -- anything really, to try help.
Raising a SN child ain't like raising a typically developing child. We had reached a point where no one outside our family was trying to interact with her. (She's not an easy person to interact with). Our experience was the homeschool moms are busy with their own kids and that as kids get older, they get picker about their friends. DD was completely and totally isolated.
At school, my DD had people trying to interact with her. It was a step in the right direction for her.
Oh, I'm sorry you had such a hard time. Thank you for sharing your experience, even if it was hard to write. I'm glad you were able to figure out what your daughter needs and help provide it. We're not quite in such dire straits but I can't imaging putting my child through misery again. I think the advice of many here has been wise and I'm thinking seeing if my daughter will adjust to PS is a bad idea, a very bad idea.
And I agree completely that homeschooling may not work for everyone. Until this past year I was 100% committed to homeschooling for these early years but I've come to realize it's not the right thing for my daughter. I have personal issues with school in general and education laws that I see as outdated and of little value, but the reality is that my child thrives when she has other kids (just not too many) to play with on a regular basis and she just loves to learn. Public school in our case had too many kids and not enough intellectual stimulation. Homeschool just won't provide that social interaction for her, even with joining up with other homeschool groups, because the reality is that I work full time. And there's no reason we can't still have enrichment experiences like museums, zoos, etc. Deep down I don't want her to go to school at all, but I've dealt with that in the name of what she needs, not what I want. I'm hoping that this Montessori school will be the right balance.
I really hope it all works out for you. Having done all three, public school was better for DD than homeschooling, but the private school is a better fit than public. It's so hard to figure it all out. Every child is different, every public school is different, and every private school is different.
Your DD is REALLY young. She could be a very different kid in a couple of years. She may not always need to very sheltered environment. But it sounds like it's the best option for this year.
but everything has pros and cons