Friday, October 8, 2010
Preparing for Kindergarten Transition: All Systems Go!
Time for a long overdue post and it's a long one! The resolution of my months (okay, I admit it, years) of worrying about how Sean would adjust to attending grade school. I had so many fears about how he would be accepted, whether or not he'd make friends, how'd he manage the long school day, would he eat there, will he continue to grow and learn new skills, would he be able to manage his school uniform, etc.
I am so, so, so entirely pleased to say.....
it's all good.
Never underestimate our children!! (That goes for me, too, sometimes mom and dad need reminders as well.)
Let's see, let me tell ya about how Sean's kindergarten experience has been going.
1. Communications with his teachers has gone pretty well. Since we live close to school, Sean does not ride the bus. Therefore, Doug or I see his teachers twice a day and can exchange verbal updates. He has two folders in his backpack, one from the mainstream class and one from the resource room class. Almost everyday I get papers from them. Projects he's working on, class schedules, notes about how his day went.
So far we've only had one disagreement about their procedures. Since all of the children wear uniforms, it can be hard to quickly recognize kids that might need extra help on the playground. We were asked at the beginning of the year if it would be okay if Sean wore a bright orange safety vest during recess until the various recess helpers had time to get to know the kids. They have used them in the past as a way of quickly keeping an eye on kids that might wander off. My initial reaction was "Absolutely not!" I saw it as a way to separate him from his peers and felt it was unnecessary. Then Doug and talked it over and thought, "Well, we want to make sure he's safe there. Wearing the vest would make it easier for them to watch him." We went back & forth on it over a weekend. Finally we concluded a compromise, no vest until Sean shows that he is attempting to leave school grounds and merits the extra "flag" so to speak. The school was fine with our decision and it doesn't seem to be a concern anymore.
Sean had a few bumps on the playground already this year, but they were not due to lack of attention from the recess teachers or his paras. Just normal schoolyard accidents- he took a soccer ball in the head & bent a pair of glasses. He skinned his knee one day and was furious that they put a band aid on him. (He hates stickers or band aids.)
2. Eating at school has gone exceptionally well. The first few weeks I packed his Goodbyn lunchbox with the slim variety of table foods he likes to eat. Currently that list is: plain sliced wheat bread, hot dog buns with ketchup (gross, I know!), fresh oranges cut into bite size pieces without rind, whole banana, applesauce, occasionally yogurt, sometimes blueberries, carrots or fresh broccoli with ranch dressing to dip in, animal crackers, and shredded lettuce salad with ranch dressing. If the school had a meal with french fries or tator tots, we'd let him buy a hot lunch that day so he could eat those. The boy goes to town on tots & fries.
I put money on his lunch account for him to buy a white milk for lunch every day. After the first month's funds were used up, the lunchroom clerk suggested that since he qualified for reduced lunches that I just let him buy a hot lunch every day and then send a couple things in his backpack to go along with what he might eat there. She said that he'd been doing really well trying some of the hot lunches and thought he might try more if he could get it every day. So we've been giving that a go. I'm never entirely sure what all he eats each day, rarely does anything come back in the his backpack.
They have an afternoon snack in the classroom every day and his teacher says he's been doing fabulous with that. She said she started a game with him, "one for you, one for me" and they eat a snack together until Sean has five bites of whatever they have that day. Awesome!
When he comes home, he is immediately hungry and eats a big after school snack, dinner and sometimes a bedtime snack. I think he's weight is being maintained, but haven't had a chance to get him weighed since school started.
3. Adjusting to the school uniform has also been surprisingly not a problem. He willingly wears his uniform every day. He can't tuck his own shirt in yet, but is capable of pulling his pants up and down & using his belt. We have a Myself Belt for him and it works just great for him. We bought Sketchers Z-Strap shoes for him because they are popular in his age group, easy for him to fasten, and fit with his shoe inserts.
We only had one potty accident at school and it was totally our fault. He has a camel bladder and will hold it all night and all morning for a very long time until he absolutely must go immediately and don't stand in his way. We have to prompt him to go in the morning before school otherwise he would gladly hold it until later (were talking no peeing for a good 13-14 hrs.) The morning he had an accident, we'd forgotten to prompt him to potty before school, and when he got there he was suppose to met with his new physical therapist for the first time. She was ready and waiting on him, so he didn't have time to settle in the class. She took him to the gym to work and apparently he told her he needed to potty then couldn't hold it long enough to get to the bathroom. I got a call to bring in spare shoes for him because every thing was soaked. (I had given them spare clothes at the beginning of the year.)
Now we are adamant about making sure one of us has seen him potty before we leave the house.
4. Sean's adjusted to the longer school day fairly well. He is there from 8:10 till 3:30. They only had a 15 min rest period in the school day, but recently cut it as the kids were doing well without it.
His teacher keeps a fairly tight schedule in the class and gave us a list of how the day is spent. 4 hours of his day is spent with the mainstream class and 3 hours is spent in the resource room. Sean's time in the resource room is spent focusing on the academics he needs to work on.
5. A wonderful part of his resource room education is a once a week trip to Reins of Hope for hippotherapy! We are so glad he gets to have this experience again. He did hippotherapy for 6 months when he was almost 2 1/2 until he turned 3. When he started hippotherapy he couldn't walk independently. When he finished it, he could easily walk from the car to the fence gate and into the arena! It is so beneficial for building core muscle strength. I need to ask his teacher if I can sneak out there to see him and take some photos.
6. And, lastly, just a brief recap of Sean's first Parent-Teacher Meeting as a kindergartner. I spoke with both teachers at once and they unanimously stated that they were extremely pleased with how he is doing. They feel he handles the transitions of the day very well and is very willing to do whatever task they ask of him. He's making friends and bonding well with his classmates.
The only concern that came up in my meetings was one regarding his older brother. Aidan has always felt the personal need to take on responsibility for his brother and sister when he is around them. He constantly checks on them and keeps tabs on what they are doing, he tries to direct their behaviors. Well, Sean and Aidan share some recess time together after lunch and Aidan was stepping right in to watch over Sean. Granted, he plays with him and invites his friend to play with Sean as well, but primarily he was telling the adults that he was in charge of Sean. It was obvious to the teachers that Aidan had a lot of anxiety about Sean's well-being. They wanted to reassure him that Sean was okay and that they were keeping an eye on him so Aidan should just enjoy his recess with his friends. Apparently, Aidan was also encouraging Sean to play superheros together, complete with pretend karate chopping each other. Big no-no at school.
Our decision was to encourage Aidan to relax about Sean, trust that the teachers care about him and will watch out for him. We told him that Sean is going to school to learn how to make friends with other kids, too, and that he needs recess time to play with kids his own age. We told him that it's okay to say hi to him and see how he is, but that it's important that he let Sean play with his classmates, too.
I think it helped. I'm confident that Sean is doing well there. I went to have lunch with them one day and stood by the fence watching them play for awhile at recess afterwards. Aidan saw me right away and ran over to say hi. I asked where Sean was and Aidan ran off to find him. A few minutes later, Sean came running over with two girls he was playing with, they said hi to me, then Sean said "Bye Mom!" and continued to play chase with the girls.
Yeah, he's doing alright.