Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Still January!

Indulge me here a moment. I'm a mom of a preschooler who will be going to kindergarten next year. And right now, it's so cold that school may be canceled tomorrow. I'm focused on making sure that our pipes don't freeze and that we keep the driveway and sidewalk passable from all the snow.

I'm not ready to start thinking about next year. After spring break. After the rest of the school year. After summer school. After the long, lazy days of playing in the pool and around the neighborhood and riding bikes. I'm not ready to think about the first week of September and what my baby is going to be doing!

But I don't really get that choice. I have friends who've already registered their children for kindergarten for next year. In fact, they'll find out this coming Friday whether they got into the full day kindergarten program or just the half day one.

In other words, I shouldn't really complain.

But tonight, I went to a meeting about transitioning from the early learning center to kindergarten. It was actually quite informative, and I'm glad I went. They had a whole panel of people from different kindergarten programs and therapists and teachers at our current school to describe what they do and answer questions.

Yeah. Let me ask questions. They regretted that, I think. I ask a lot of questions because I want to understand things. That and I have a husband who teaches in the district, so I get partial information on a lot of things that others may not have learned yet.

From listening to the presentation, I'm pretty sure that Mister Man will go to his home school. He won't need to go to one of the special programs throughout the district, and for that I'm grateful. I'm pretty sure that he'll receive services, but they really try to push them in the classroom versus making it a big thing where he is pulled from the classroom and made aware that he's so different. It really takes away some of the worry.

Plus, I found out that they have a great program that is open to residents across the district -- special education and not -- to get ready for kindergarten. And more importantly, that the slots fill up really fast. Now I know not to dither and to make sure I turn in that form as quickly as possible. I won't wonder whether or not he'll go to summer school via the early learning center like he has the past two summers and then end up not getting into the program. And best of all, if the ELC recommends that he attend the program, they provide bussing, so that's one less worry for me. Yay!

Interestingly, only three of the schools in our district do any sort of kindergarten screening. I'm not an expert, but I always thought they did assessments of kids before they went to kindergarten to get a sense of what they do and don't know. Fortunately, my home school is one of those, so Mister Man will head over to the school one day in March with another four or six kids for an hour and a half. They'll test his hearing and vision and see if he knows his letters, recognizes colors and shapes, can count to twenty and the like. Yeah. I'll have to make sure that he shows them what he actually knows so that ...

they can make sure to provide him with the differentiated education my district is so proud of. Apparently they really mean it when they say that the kids who know how to read are given extra work and higher level concepts to focus on rather than being bored. I'll believe it when I see it, but they really pushed it tonight. In fact, they said that if the level of acceleration is enough that they're doing completely different things from the rest of the class, they'll involve the gifted coordinator in the district from the get-go instead of waiting for the testing they ordinarily do in second grade. The last thing anyone wants -- whether they know it or not at this point -- is for Mister Man to be bored!

He has an IEP, and he'll continue to have an IEP. This fall he'll be re-evaluated because it's time for the three year evaluation (that I also learned about tonight). Who knows what this will show, but the schools are very willing to continue to provide consult services to keep an IEP open in case the progress made doesn't continue. That prevents having to go through all sorts of testing and other hoops if the need to reopen an IEP comes up. But fingers crossed, one day soon he will graduate from needing an IEP. I'd love to see him a totally "normal" kid, but if that doesn't happen this district provides great support, and it's the best place for him. As long as he's happy, that's all I ask.

And best of all, the principal agreed to my suggestion that we put together a voluntary list of parents in the school who have children moving on to kindergarten throughout the district who want to get together with other children from their anticipated schools prior to the school year. Yay! I'll actually know someone other than the few kids in our neighborhood who will be moving on with us. And more importantly, I'll have some more resources who will get my concerns and frustrations, having lived through them theirselves. I'm making up the form tonight, and we're starting to pull the list together at Dad's Night next month!

And soon. All too soon. In nine short months, I'll have a kindergartener on my hands!


Cookie January 14, 2009 at 11:15 PM  

I think kindergarten is hardest on the parents! My younger son starts kindergarten in September too. He wants to do everything his big brother does. So he can't wait!

Melisa Wells January 15, 2009 at 7:25 AM  

I drove behind the bus on my older son's first day of kindergarten (he didn't know I did that). It was tough, but exciting at the same time.

Michelle January 15, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

Cookie - It is sometimes. I just can't believe he's this old already. It helps that a lot of our (his and mine) friends are in kindergarten this year, but still! And yeah... I've got Little Miss following a year behind. But I'm ready and so's she, so that will be an easy transition!

Melisa - At least that's one thing I won't have to worry about! Mister Man has ridden the bus for 2 1/2 years to and from preschool every day, so I got my following the bus the first day over with when he had *just* turned three!

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