Thursday, October 4, 2012

School Days

First day of school

Josiah is ready for kindergarten

Gideon is way too busy checking out the bus . . .

. . . and his lunch to smile for the camera!

Blessing is ready for another fun year, too!
This year we are trying something a little different, at least different for a family that has always homeschooled.  In the mornings, Gideon and Josiah are going to half-day kindergarten at the small country school up the road, and Micah is going in the afternoons.  

Blessing, Gideon, and Micah are spending most of their days in a small special ed. classroom, with opportunities to join the general ed setting for music, recess, lunch, circle time, free-choice, and other appropriate times.  Their time in the special ed room is spent with one-on-one aides, working on their individual learning goals, learning how to transition from one learning activity to the next, practicing communication skills, including PECS and sign language, and improving social skills and emotional regulation.  

The kids' teacher and aides are amazing and so committed to helping our kids.  I was a bit concerned about whether such a small, rural school was the right fit for my kids, but we are seeing amazing student-teacher ratios, a program built specifically to meet the needs and goals of our kids (since they didn't exactly have a special ed program until we came along . . . ), students who are nice and respectful to my children and make a point to greet them by name when they see them, an everybody-knows-everybody environment where nobody can possibly fall through the cracks . . . We are really feeling great peace with the school situation at this point!  

Meanwhile, Isaac is enjoying fourth grade homeschool this year, and I think he is especially benefiting from fewer noise and distractions during the mornings with three of the kids out of the house.  Gracie spends her mornings taking leisurely bubble baths, playing with her dollhouse, and putting puzzles together (she is a totally different kid without Josiah around to get her riled up!) and Micah scoots around the house and amuses himself nicely, and Isaac gets a peaceful calm that is nearly impossible to find with Josiah revving things up and Gideon bopping around and bouncing off the walls.  Isaac really learns well when everything is very calm and there is not much going on around him . . . a tough scenario to achieve generally, but we are all seeing much better focus and emotional regulation this school year.  We are ALL loving that aspect of the new plan!
Isaac made this plant display for science

 Josiah just loves having homework to do, and a backpack to wear, and his own group of friends, (instead of just tagging along with Isaac and his friends) and he comes home sweaty and smiling and full of snippets of information each day.

 Gideon has already settled in quite a bit, and we are seeing far fewer emotional outbursts and panic attacks than we saw at first.  He is getting the hang of the daily routine, and he knows what to expect every day.  He has his picture schedule on the wall at school, and he is learning to exchange pictures with his teacher to show her what he wants.  Our hope is that he will be able to be more fully integrated into the general ed setting at some point in the future, but currently that setting is very emotionally overwhelming and overstimulating for him, and he seems very happy and calm when I peek into the little classroom that he and Blessing share, so we believe that is the best setting for him at this time.  

 And Micah?  Well, I was not sure how Micah would feel about the bus and school and being away from home.  But here he is, scooting himself right out the front door to go get on the bus the first day!

Totally not wanting to pose for the camera.  
He just wants to get going!  
His wheelchair is STILL on order (seven months now, folks!  But that is a whole other post) so he is riding the little bus in a carseat until he has his chair to ride in.  And he feels comfortable in carseats nowadays, so the bus went very well.  He looks upset in these next two pictures, but I think it was just the sun in his eyes, because he really did very well!  I rode along the first day to make sure, and he just looked out the window and enjoyed the ride!  Love my brave boy!  
 And at school he has been doing great.  He likes to scoot himself around the room, checking everything out, and he seems happy to be there!  
Oh, and Gracie is doing preschool with a couple of her little cousins each week at her auntie's house, and then in the afternoons when Isaac is done with his schoolwork he gets free time and I am able to focus on some kindergarten games and activities and read-alouds with Gideon, Gracie, and Josiah.  So overall, I am really loving our new schedule, and feeling like we are getting so much accomplished!  


Milena said...

How nice to hear about a small school being so open and welcoming! With the right people involved, an everybody-knows-everybody setting can indeed be the best. Your children will be just Gideon and Blessing, not Gideon-with-CP or Blessing-in-a-wheelchair. So happy for you!

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to hear how well everyone is doing! I am a big believer in doing what works. We homeschool our older child, who has special needs, and our younger child attends public school. It works for us. If that ever changes, we will re-evaluate the situation. One thing I've learned is to be happy when something works and be open to change if necessary. I love all of the pictures of the kids.

Marie said...

So cool to hear how everything is going with the big school adjustment. I do think it is amazing how well everything is going... you are amazing and all your kids are blessed to have you as a mom!

rosedel said...

I am so impressed that you can keep everyone's schedules straight! I like to see parents choosing what is best for their kids as individuals. I say prayers of thanks every time I see Gideon and Micah growing and progressing.

Stacie Evensen said...

Wow, so fun to see how much the kids are growing and learning. I had no idea till I read this post that Gideon and Micah were now able to go to school. That is so wonderful!