Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reality check

Lately, I've been on kind of a "high" where Jen is concerned.  I've seen such huge signs of progress lately, and some things that I had anticipated would not go well (Disneyland...Disneyland....Disneyland) have gone pretty darn smooth!  So........when I went to the school Wednesday morning to participate in an informal "transition meeting", I wasn't mentally prepared for the reality check that I was about to receive. 

First of all, the attendees at this meeting were our principal, her kindergarten teacher, her 1:1 para-educator from this past year, her first-grade teacher for next year, and me.  The goal was simply to put us all in the same room for an un-official passing of the torch (the torch being Jen).  We had about 20 minutes to just kind of "share" our concerns, our victories, and express whatever we wanted to get on the table.  Jennica will go to first grade with a 1:1 para-educator, but she will have a new para next year (as well as a new teacher) as last year's para has taken a new position in the district. 

Let me say that I'm excited about the teacher that has been chosen to be Jennica's teacher in first grade.  She has only been with our district for a year, but she has rave reviews from her classroom parents and fellow teachers from this past year.  I have seen her around the building and she is friendly, but quiet.  She's not a boisterous, loud person.  She listens intently when others speak to her.  So good. 

But.......HOLY COW......I suddenly realized during this meeting that we have been with the same teacher for two whole years.  Jennica had Mrs. Michalk for preschool, and then Mrs. Michalk moved up to kindergarten with her!  Mrs. Michalk has had classes on SPD!  She knows my daughter.  She has even attended therapy with us!!  And listening to her (and the para) explain to the new teacher some of Jen's quirks and nuances......I thought, "Oh, my goodness!!!"  There are volumes and volumes and volumes of things that this new teacher doesn't know about my child!!!  How is she going to learn it all quickly so that we don't waste half the year?

And somehow, I had managed to convince myself that Jennica was almost on-target academically.  She's not!!  She has learned to be "a student" this year.  She hasn't necessarily learned what she needs to know entering first grade.  Just the fact that she is now willing to sit at a desk and attempt to complete the same exercises the other children are completing doesn't mean that she has the same level proficiency that they do!  Is it encouraging?  Yes!  But is she 100% ready for first grade?  Definitely no! 

So.........I'm in reality-check-mode and we're trying to make some decisions.  What can we do over the summer that will help her do some more learning without stressing her out?  Do we hire a tutor to work with her a few days each week, on top of the occupational therapy that she's going to attend?  Or does tht fact that she is at least "ready to learn" going to be all she needs to catch up during the coming year? 

I've scanned in a paper that she brought home a few weeks ago.  The works is totally hers!  We are VERY proud of this work.....but I'm also willing to admit that this is the upper end of her ability right now!  How do we make this level of work a daily occurrence? 

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