Monday, June 6, 2011

Kindergarten IEP

To finally update you on Kindergarten...

Harlie will start in September.  Unfortunately, she will change schools from where she is now.  I'm a little bummed.

Where she is now:

  • Is the smallest school in the county.
  • Holds the county's talented and gifted program.
  • The students are used to seeing hearing impaired and special education students.
  • The teachers are used to having sign language interpreters/instructional aides in their class.
  • Since the school is smaller, it is easier for Harlie to walk around.
  • The principal and the staff already know her and she knows them.

But they are starting a feeder pattern for special needs kids.  The county is trying to keep the kids that don't go to their home school (the one they would be zoned for if they didn't have special needs) together as they move up in schools, which is great.  But for some reason this means they have to make some changes and they decided to move the Hearing Impaired Program to a different school.

I'm sure it will be fine.  It's just more change.  And it's change that I thought I didn't have to deal with.  And it's a bigger school, with more students.  I can't help but think the more students the easier for the hearing impaired kids to be drowned out and lost.

It is closer to our home.  And I know a few moms of kids who go there.  So, I guess that's good.

Anyway, she will go full days - 7:50am to 2:00pm.  She will ride the bus and her nurse will go with her.

She'll be in a typical class and she will have her nurse, the teacher and an interpreter/instructional aide with her.  Crazy.  It feels so weird to think that she requires that much support.  She will also have 90 minutes during each day with a hearing impaired teacher.  And she will get some speech therapy, too.  Some of that time will be in the class and some out of the class.

You might be wondering why we are sending our four year old child with special needs to Kindergarten when it is so clearly the trend to hold kids back when their birthdays are even close to the cut-off.

The cut-off here is that they have to be five by September 30th.  And with her birthday being September 25th - she barely makes it.  Our thinking is that since she's been in a preschool class for the developmentally delayed - she has not had "normal" peer modeling.  All the kids in her class have their needs and wants met without having to communicate them.  And while there is some structure, each child in her class has a different capability level - so the structure is not as it is in a typical class.

The educators that have been working with her believe that she is capable of doing a lot more than she does.  And they feel she has the academic knowledge necessary to start this fall.

We've certainly discussed this at length.  And really it boils down to:

Do we send her to kindergarten despite her age and developmental delays?
Do we keep her in the preschool education for the developmentally delayed class for another year?

Here's what we were thinking:

1) We can always change our mind and pull her out if kindergarten turns out to be not the best decision.

2) We are doing this with the expectation for her to repeat kindergarten, so her age isn't really that much of an issue.  Even though she might be academically ready (knows how to count, knows the alphabet, knows her colors and can write her own name, etc.) there is a lot she doesn't know - socially.  She has a lot to learn and going through it twice sounds like the best option.

3) Staying where she is now, is definitely, without a doubt, NOT the best decision.  She's learned all she can in that class.  And she is ready to learn more.

4) I really like, and trust, her teachers.  They really care about her and work very hard to bring out the best of her during school.  And they believe that this is the best way to go.  And Tom and I think it's worth trying, at least.  Let's see what she can do when the bar is raised.  I can tell you that I've learned that parents underestimate their children's abilities a lot more than they realize.  I don't want to do that to Harlie.  She's already amazed us in so many ways.  Let's see what she can do.

My major concern with starting her in a typical class is how her classmates are going to view her.  Will she notice that they are staring at her?  Will she start to wonder why?  And then will she start to view herself the way they do?  Because I do NOT want that to happen any sooner than possible.  That is one thing I would delay forever if I could.  She still smiles at herself in the mirror and doesn't seem to be aware at all of her differences.

So, her hearing impaired teacher had a great idea of putting together a Harlie book.  It will be a book introducing her, and explaining in simple terms why she has a trach, why she doesn't talk, why her eye is the way it is, why she has just one ear, what her suction machine is for, etc.  The book will have photos and will be very kid (and parent) friendly.  We're thinking if the kids understand more of what's going on with her they will be more comfortable accepting her for who she is.

We originally thought of just introducing her to the class and explaining things, turning on the suction machine, etc.  But, then they might go home and try to talk about her and their parents would have no idea what they are talking about.  So, this way, we can educate both the kids and the parents.  And hopefully, the parents will be good about setting a good example for their kids.

We also decided to put her in summer school with the county.  She will have the same teacher she has now, which is great.  Summer school for her current class is held at a different school.  And it is just more than a mile away (still not our home school).  This is awesome because I was not going to put her on the bus this summer.  For one, it is way too hot - especially with her back brace.  And two, I don't want her getting all jostled around on the bus.  I don't think that would be good for her back.  So we are super lucky that her class will be so close!

So, that's about it for kindergarten.  I am going to her school this week to meet the principal and register her.  I think that she is going to show me around some.

Exciting stuff.  Big changes.  Big challenges.  And hopefully, Big Successes are ahead.

There's so much more to tell you.  But this has gotten long enough.   I will post more as soon as I can.

Thanks so much for reading!


Janis said...

Brave mama! I am sure she will do great and amazing things. How is she doing with her Springboard Lite?

Tracy said...

That's the one beauty of choices is that they aren't set in stone.
You know Harlie best and I bet she's a smart little peanut.
I think she'll do great.

Susan said...

You are stuck in a tough spot if they don't have a preschool program that will meet her needs. I hope it works out! I know Harlie is capable of so much. It's going to be fun to see. Probably not without it's tough moments but exciting and fun too.

Christy said...

Janis - she's doing great with her Springboard Lite. A post about that is coming soon (I hope!).