Tuesday, June 22, 2010

School, School, School (or Why We Can't Forget About School and Just Enjoy the Summer?)

Samantha’s teachers have, on rare occasions, read my blog. I try to keep my work life and Sammi’s school life away from the blog so I definitely don’t blog about work (there’s not much to say about it usually, although the colorful cast of characters may make for good reading), and I think the only people from work who even know about my blog are the ones I have on Facebook (which are limited to, like, 4). School’s a slightly different story. I feel that I need to blog about school from time to time since this is primarily an outlet for what’s going on in Samantha’s life. Blogs are cathartic for me, as well as informational to others. I like to keep that going, and I hate to have to censor too much. My blog address and my Flickr photo site address are both in my personal e-mail signature, so unless I deliberately delete that from my correspondence, people get that information. While I was looking for a 2nd preschool for Samantha, I definitely didn’t include my signature lines in my messages to the schools, as I knew this was not information I wanted any preschool admins to have prior to Sammi’s admittance. Samantha’s current existing preschool teachers are a different story. I really like the fact that they have been here to visit. They’ve been kind of a dream team of collaboration and encouragement, and I feel very fortunate that Samantha has had the opportunity to attend school at CL.

We have decided, for this upcoming school year, to send Samantha to M (see my previous post about this). I called the director to thank her for showing us around and said that we would like very much to have Samantha attend school there. I made sure I was very diplomatic when I told her some of the reasons why we preferred her school to L (class structure and classroom style) but I’m sure she knew their shortcomings, as she injected her own obvious display of diplomacy in return. On her suggestion, Steve took Samantha to M yesterday morning to sit in on the class, which doesn’t follow the school system’s schedule and has structured classes year-round (hooray!). He reported that after some initial shyness and tears, she settled into their circle time and joined them in playing at the toy kitchen. He left the room for about 15 minutes and when he returned to tell her it was time to go, she didn’t want to leave. He said the teachers were great with her, and she fit in well with the other children (some of whom are older and will be moving on to Kindergarten next year, but some of whom have just moved up and will be in her class). Our paperwork will be going in this week!

At their request, Sammi’s teacher at CL called for a meeting last Friday to discuss adding a resource teacher to her IEP for the days that she’s attending class at M. I have heard the term before, but really didn’t know what a resource teacher was. Well, heck, I still kind of don’t, but I do know it’s to do with ensuring that Sammi’s needs are met. I sat down with the teacher and Vice Principal, who recommended that a resource teacher visit her at M for 1 ½ hours per day, which I think is great. Isn’t it? Or should I be concerned that time with the resource teacher will take away from the time she could be working on the regular class learning with her peers? Now that I think of it, perhaps I should have asked this question. Will she be pulled out? Will this teacher just aid her within the classroom? I definitely don’t want her to miss Spanish or math or reading. But again, I am glad for the additional 1 on 1 help. We wouldn’t have asked for this ourselves, as we didn’t know it was an option, and are grateful that it was recommended to us. In Friday’s meeting, the VP informed me that at CL they don’t make it a practice to tell parents they can’t do something, but they do make it a practice to tell them let’s see how we can do something. That’s truly the kind of environment I want for my daughter as she moves through the school system. CL is not our home school. Now I’m a bit torn. Do I want to have Sammi in her home school for Kindergarten on up so she gets to know the children from the neighborhood - the children she will be growing up with - better? Or do I want her in a different school where I know her needs will be met? I think this year will be calling for an awful lot of research to be done on our part. Is it common practice (or allowable) for parents to meet with the school administration of their home school to be sure that the placement there would be right for their children with special needs? How else could one establish LRE (Least Restrictive Environment, for those of you who have not yet had the good fortune of learning all the crazy, special needs acronyms) before the first day of school?

Sorry for writing a book again. Just airing the usual mush floating around and around in my head.


B. McKenzie said...

oh, the hassles of school. We will be heading towards all this stuff in a few years. I am not looking forward to it but it sounds like you guys have done your research and are making good decisions for Samantha. I know it must be stressful...I say take at least one day a week...maybe 2 or even 3 to not think about it and go play!!

RobMonroe said...

Random thoughts are fine - I "hid" my blog for a while, but then a pastor friend of mine included a link in a publication to all of our churches. Wow. Lots of eyes then, but only for a week or so. :o)

Great that the school is looking out for you before you even know what to ask for!

my family said...

I too have not blogged much about william and school this coming year. THis past year was fine b/c he was in a private school, no problem. THis next year will be prek-K and he will not be attending the school my girls go to...ever! which makes me sad b/c EVERYONE knows him. but the school does not have good PEI(Preschool Early Intervention) nor do they "feel" like dealing with inclusion. The school he will be going to has an awesone principal who is on SPED boards and is excited about inclusion and pushing our kids (love that). THey actually want him to gointo a reg. ed pre-K and have a coupleo f hous pull out if need be. This is a nervous time for all of "New" moms in this boat but I do think our kids will do great

Carol N. said...

I don't think there's a right or wrong path...there is just going through it.

I'm going to be putting Aidan in the school near our house because his big brothers go there, and the children know him and are great with him on the playground already. We know about five of the kids he will be with in Kindy, and they are all very wonderful kids. I've been working hard since we moved here to build up a strong sense of community and belonging, so I'm going with that (for now).

Where do you feel you will have the most support? Are there other ways for the neighbourhood children to bond with Samantha outside of school?

Lots of words....sorry 'bout that.

Kristi said...

I understand this struggle OH so well! We are still going through it and he's going into 4th grade next fall!
Resource teacher is usually a term for special education. Which if it's "push in" the teacher can help her with what kind of instruction is going on. How long is the school day, what her academic needs are will play into whether it's pull out or push in. And to be honest, I have always liked a little of both. Push in for help in the classroom, but pull out for some much needed one on one time.
Kris will be attending his "home"school with his brother next year. This is something he hasnt' done since 1st grade. I am PRAYING it works out. We were all set to have him attend a homeschool program at a private school that his brother was going to be attending (and we were hoping he could work up to full time). Until they showed me this program in our public home school. It's bittersweet because I am glad that the boys can be together (they are twins) and they truly love each other. But I am a little sad because I think the private school can offer so much because they are small classes and etc. There are about 6 or7 students to a class. However he does well in most subjects but math, which is a huge stumbling block for him. I also struggle with mainstreaming or self contained (with some mainstreaming) because i feel like they need to know there are other kids like them, they aren't the only ones that have a hard time with something or are different.
I could go on and on and on! If you ever want to talk you can email me (It's on my blog).
I really enjoy your posts and I can sooooo sympathize with you! GGOd luck :)

Kristi said...

ps- I forgot to add that we are moving to this new "home" school, We are still in the same district but just a different elementary. And also moving out of a development and to the country!! So I thought it might be good to have him attend a school that the kids lived close by if they want to have playdates. More decisions, LOL :)

amy flege said...

wow that is alot to think about....i am sure you will make the right decision for sammi though!!!! we have not asked for a para yet for mayson. she does well without and i hate the thought of her relaying in one too much. she will be fully included in her preschool class. her speech and ot come into the classroom as well and do not pull her out!
so much to think about though.. been there done it.... try to enjoy summer, ok?

Dawn said...

Now that I'm done with the hassles of school, I think I'm going to miss it. Yeah, I know, that sounds crazy.

You are very lucky that you have a choice of schools. When Taylor was coming up through various schools, we never had options. There was usually only one school in the entire county that dealt with the profoundly developmentally delayed. So, that was our only option.

Most of the time, I'm happy to say that it really worked out for Taylor's benefit. Of course the one bad time we had was seriously bad, but we managed to come through it although not quite unscathed.

It sounds like you are making the best possible decisions for Samantha and I'm sure she will flourish. No second-guessing (as you reminded me). We do what is best for our kids at that time and you definitely are.

Melanie said...

I agree with Kristi. A special education resource teacher is often used in a "push in" manner, thus helping Samantha in the regular ed classroom and giving her full day teachers ideas/strategies. You can indicate how you would like Samantha to receive the services on the IEP: "push in" or "pull out", thus identifying what would be the LRE. You can have a mix each week, let's say 1 hour push in and 30 minutes pull out. You can also indicate yoru preference for when pull out occurs. I love that you have two wonderful school options! I also love that your school system recommended a resource teacher! Sounds like she does indeed have a wonderful team! Please give Sammi a hug for me! Best wishes, Melanie

P.S. I love seeing pics of Sammi!