My older boys start school 3 weeks from today. Before I do my celebratory cartwheels down the block, I have a lot of preparation to do for our foray into the 2012-13 school year. A lot. At these times, as my anxiety starts to rise while I make and revise my list of “Things to Do”, I wonder if families of “typical” children have as much stress…it’s something I would have asked my mom, but well…yeah….
Don’t get me wrong…I am certain that every family has a certain amount of stress that comes about with the beginning of a new school year. New teachers, new classes, more demands on children in terms of expectations, etc. I know everyone has that “Eleventh Hour” stress of “will-we-get-it-all-done-in-time”. But is there the utter feeling of panic ?
Monday is the district-wide residency event. Every year we have to prove where we live. We need not one, not two, but THREE identifying documents. I have those set aside for our big day. That day, once we prove that we are, indeed, living well within district lines, they will hand me 2 envelopes. In the envelopes will be my boys’ teacher assignments. There are 3 sections of third grade at our school. Just about everyone that I have talked to wants the same teacher. That teacher happens to be Jake’s math tutor. I wrote a letter to our principal last spring, detailing the ways in which Jake learns/struggles/benefits in school (this supports getting his math tutor as a teacher). I talked to his IEP team about his placement. I have everything crossed from my toes to my eyes. Please, oh please, let us get this teacher. Jake is comfortable with her, she “gets” Jake, she pushes him enough, but not too much, and she is all about working with the resource teacher to enhance the learning experience.
Once I get the envelopes (and yes, I totally feel like we’re going to the Academy Awards…but without the red carpet…the fun, awesome “swag”, and the pre-and post-parties), I will be sending a message to Tate’s teacher regarding his schedule. The district wouldn’t meet with us at the end of last school year to work out a schedule for this year to accommodate ABA because schedules aren’t final until August. Ugh. I want to find out what classes and therapies he has when, and when I can pull him for the day during the week so we can do ABA. I am currently developing an ulcer over this.
Tuesday afternoon we get the official results and report from Jake’s evaluation. I will barely have enough time to digest what’s going on with my kiddo before I’m on the phone with Jake’s regular ed teacher and resource teacher (she at least will stay the same this year) to discuss and figure out if we need to meet again to adjust his IEP. I am fairly certain we will, because, well, they want to pull him back to a half hour of speech services (from his 60 minutes in grade 2), and well, his primary qualification for special ed is speech/language. I know…right??? The doctor informed us during our parent meeting that she totally disagrees with that and will word her report as such. (SCORE!) I hope that we can negotiate it for Jake.
Tate’s therapists are reading a social story with him right now. It is about his new school. He is doing ok with it. He knows the school, as it is the one that Jake attends. We have that in our favor. I want to bring him to the school next week for a little walk through. We don’t need to go into his classroom, but I want to have him walk the halls, see the gym (which he hates thanks to all of the events we have attempted to attend there over the past 3 years), see the cafeteria, the library, and do the walk to the classroom. I’ll let him play on the playground, and walk in the parking lot. He can sit on the benches outside and check out the flag pole. His ABA therapists are totally game. Just have to make sure that the school is.
The more I read about special needs parenting and advocating, the more I realize that I need to put together packets of info for the teachers. Sooo, I am working on getting these together for the boys’ teachers. It’s the least I can do to help foster a mutually beneficial experience for everyone…but it’s just another thing that needs to get done to help my boys succeed.
We are starting the school year evening and bedtime routines next week, as well. I am going to try to get them to pick out their clothes the night before. I want to instill a reading time before bed, since no one wants to read when they get home from school. I am also hoping that limiting tv time right before bed..or within a half hour, helps a bit with readying their bodies for sleep. It will take a couple of weeks to get this established, so we have to start early.
Even though I get a certain “high” from school supply shopping, this hasn’t been done…I need to do that, too. I have discovered that none of the males in my household like this particular adventure. I have tried to pick up a few things when I go to the store, but Tate is quite adamant that school supplies are stinky and gross, so he’s had a couple of those I’m-laying-on-the-ground-and-writhing-until-you-let-us-leave moments. It was great. Especially when Cole joined in the “fun”. The supplies this year, at least, seem reasonable, and I won’t have to try to find a 25-pack of “white paper lunch bags”. What the what?! Yes, last year I had to supply a package of 25 “white paper lunch bags”. I have absolutely ZERO idea what those were used for in the classroom. ZERO. Never saw those 25 bags again (Party-City, by the way, carries them…) Oh, and we had to buy a package of 2-gallon sized Ziploc bags for Tate’s classroom. Uhhh…thankfully my neighbor was able to give me some insight–Walmart (shudder).
So, we have all this prep work, in addition to trying to arrange some outside therapies, ABA therapy, Jake’s swimming, religious education, and possibly tae kwon do. Of course, I have the added worry about how anxiety will affect the boys, and whether they’ll be able to attend in class, and focus on homework once they’re home, and juggle their therapy and schoolwork, all while trying to allow them to be “kids” as well.
I wish it were as simple as packing up a backpack, buying a pair of new sneakers, giving my kid a few bucks on his lunch card, and sending him off to school with a kiss. But, alas, that is not our world. It takes a lot of preparation…a lot.