Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School's almost IN

I cannot believe our summer is almost over and that school starts in one week. Where did the summer go? I know adults always say this, but even Kurtis said this the other day. Last nigght, Kurtis and I went shopping for school supplies - backpacks, pencil cases, pencils etc etc. He's at the age now where he actually cares a bit about what I buy - so he's gotta come with me! Ryan could care less right now, so he's very easy to buy for. The shopping is the easy part. (wait...it seems I forgot about shoe shopping this afternoon. That definitely was NOT easy. Two tired and cranky children...combined with measuring feet and buying two pairs of shoes each does not make for a wonderful, happy shopping experience).

What's not easy is the (little bit of) worry I am experiencing about Ryan entering GRADE ONE! I cannot believe my little guy is already in "real" school. Tom and I debated about holding Ryan back - but after discussion with various people in Ryan's school life (ie. teacher, EA), we decided to put him in grade one. If it is too much, we can always hold him back and have him repeat grade one next year. In any event, he's going! There's so much worry in my head:
- will going to school all day, every day, be too much for him? I wonder if it will tire him out too much. And Ryan's not exactly overly cooperative when he's tired. In fact, the more tired he is, the more active and "busy" he becomes. It's almost as if he feels that if he stops for one minute, he'll fall asleep - so he CAN'T STOP.
- how much curriculum adaptation will we have to do? I know that we will have to do some, but how much and how are we going to do it? We haven't had to do any curriculum adaption yet, so this will be a learning experience for us. In the school system, the IEP (Individual Education Plan) isn't actually finalized until late October (give or take a few weeks), but I want to be "on top" of things starting right in September so I know I'll have to work with the teacher quickly and meet with her early in September.
- how will his new EA interact with him? Ryan has a new EA this year. He has had the same EA for the past two years and we're going to miss her a lot. But I also think it'll be good for Ryan to have a change. But Ryan is very good at challenging someone new - so I'm worried that we will see a lot of negative behaviour in the first few weeks.
- how will his new teacher interact with him? Thankfully, the teacher already knows Ryan as she was Kurtis's grade one teacher. She also has had a student with Down syndrome in her class. So I know that there won't be any major issues like some people encounter. But there's still always some worry in the back of my mind about how they will interact. I am working on writing something up that describes Ryan, his strengths and challenges, how to best work with Ryan, and our ultimate vision for him. This is a LOT of work and I haven't done much on it yet.
This is one of the things about having a child with a disability that I DON'T like. I can honestly say that there aren't too many things that bother me about having a child with a disability. This is one of them. Learning how to manoeuvre within the school "system" is hard work - and a lot of it. It ticks me off that so much of this ends up falling on the parents' shoulders. I know teachers and others in the school system work hard - and for the most part, I have been very happy with the people we've had to work for (no horror stories like some other people have had) and they have been good for Ryan. But it still bugs me that the parents really need to keep on top of it or it can fall by the wayside or not be appropriate for your child or just not done. You really need to learn to advocate for your child. And one thing you learn: not to be shy. You really need to stick up for your child because no one else will. And honestly, I'm lazy. Like everyone else, I'd rather not have to learn the in's and out's of the special education act. I'd rather not have to learn how to adapt curriculum so that it's useful for my child. I'd rather not have to learn how to complete IEPs. Enough about this. And as Tom says, don't worry - it'll all work out OK, it usually does!


Kei said...

It WILL all work out!
As for the long days~ can you transition Ryan into that? The last 2 years, we worked out a schedule with William's teacher so that he eased into the full day kindergarten gradually. All the kids went a half day the first week of school, and then into a full day, but with William, we added a half hour to an hour every few days after the first week, so that within 3 weeks after the other kids, William had the full day.
Granted, Ryan will be in first grade (so is William this year!), but it's a thought. We had discussed that option with William for the start this year, but this kid is full of energy until bedtime and even then it's like wrestling a greased pig sometimes, lol.
As for curriculum modifications, that too will work out~ and probably be re-worked throughout the year, as they may discover different ways to help Ryan succeed.
Based on your concerns/questions, I'd say you're pretty on top of things, so don't worry too much... it WILL work out!

Anonymous said...

hey Annette. You go, girl!

Shannon **Gabi's Mom** said...

My kids have been back for almost a month!

The long school days won't be as hard as you think, you'll see!

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen and experienced working with kids with special needs in various systems for the last 17 years, I can tell you that you are so on the right track - educating yourself so that you can do the right things for Ryan. I want to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing - no matter how tedious and tiring it can get. An involved parent makes all the difference between a child having a great school experience and a not so great one. Keep it up and may God bless you.

Deb V