I know, I know…this post should certainly start with the requisite first day of school photo! It was raining today, so our normal photo-op spot was unusable. Once we stepped foot on campus, the whirlwind began, and although I did pack my camera along, it never made it out of the bag. We’ll try again tomorrow.
Miss Abbie was awake at 5:30, all grins and giggles, with anticipation gleaming in her eyes. This day was finally, truly here! As silly as it sounds, it was an all-out sprint from 6am on to get the boys out the door, and then get her fed, changed, dressed and ready to get out the door by 8:15.
I wanted to dress her in one of her pretty outfits — you know, “matchy-matchy” from the socks to the hair ribbons. However, I pushed pause on the “Mommy Plays Dress-Up” game long enough to think about what an average third-grade girl would want to wear on the first day of school. Jeans it was. Of course, she rolled to the van looking stylish anyway (and yes, her ribbons did match her shirt…I cannot help myself). Unfortunately, all the lead-up excitement had pooped her out, and she fell asleep during the drive.
She opened her eyes briefly when we arrived, but then proceeded to nap deeply for the next hour. I didn’t have time to be too disappointed because so many staff members were in the classroom to greet and work with Abbie on her first day. Speech, vision, public health nursing….I felt like I was the pinball pinging between questions and conversations. But, it was all fruitful, and I was grateful to have their input from the beginning.
At last, around 10 Abbie really woke up, so I suggested we start the academic portion of her day. Woo-hoo, was she on today!!! We are using the same literature-based program we’ve used at home, and the book we’ve selected for this month is a book of illustrations accompanying Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” She was so intent on the words and illustrations, and vocalized quite a bit in response to questions and observations. The aides could already see that she was intellectually and visually engaged. One of them did give me a look of surprise, though, when I mentioned that one of Abbie’s tasks during this unit will be to memorize the poem. I think she’ll be even more surprised when she sees how fast Abbie will accomplish this.
After we were finished with language arts, we moved to math. Because her IEP goals were written quite a while ago, she is now way beyond them. I am thankful God dropped just the right word into my mouth to explain and justify to her why she was going to have to do such easy things.
” Abbie, at the beginning of the school year everyone — your brothers, your friends, your classmates — they all do something called ‘review’. Review covers things you already learned, and are easy for you, but you still have to show your new teachers that you know them. So, today we are going to review your numbers and adding 1″
While this did help her be patient, I have to admit that she got irritated by being asked to identify numbers between 0 and 31. It reminded me of how aggravated she used to get when I kept making her go through the alphabet. But, she complied and showed them she knows the numbers . We then had her do 7+1, which did not take her long. Because she was getting impatient, we then let her do something like 9-3+1, which made her happier but did not take her long to answer. Finally, we did let her do one multiplication problem, even though it’s not in her IEP. 6×3 did not take her long either.
We did some calendar work, and she was quickly able to pick out 2010 as the correct year, even though her choices were 2009, 2010, and 2011. Every time the aide or I thought something might be too hard, I just said, “let’s see what she does”….she succeeded every time.
We did have a little meeting mid-morning to deal with some miscommunications regarding nursing. The resolution means that Abbie will be staying at school until 1, instead of 12. I think this will be a good thing for her, because it means more time to work when she’s really awake and ready to go.
She glowed with contentment when we arrived home. Then, I said the magic words, “Abbie, you get to go to school again TOMORROW!!” She grinned, as if it were too good to be true. What a precious angel. I am so excited about what new levels she’s going to be able to reach with a whole academic team supporting her. Her life just got a lot bigger today, and her spirit is soaring in all that new space.