LB's in School

Leighton is in her second year of pre-school. She rides the bus. She also gets OT, PT and Speech at school. In small doses, but she gets it.

I dreaded and anxiously awaited this day to come. There have been so many people that have had horrible experiences with IEP's and the entire school system. So, naturally, I worried.

However, being married to a teacher, those fears were subsided a great deal. Until about 1 week before her first IEP meeting, and then I got pretty nervous. So I had a friend look over LB's eval report to see what she thought.

As I suspected, she told me that Leighton was going to be fine and gave me her advice of what to expect. She is a special needs preschool teacher so that was right up the alley I needed.

My nerves came when I was told that the decisions we make now will be the path she is on for the REST OF HER LIFE - meaning - if we choose to keep her in a self contained (special needs class) class, she will not receive a diploma. If she is mainstreamed, she could have the potential to obtain a diploma. Not words this momma is good with. It took me 6 years to declare a major and I still wasn't sure if thats what I wanted to do.

As we went into the meeting, I was reminded that this decision doesn't really occur until kindergarten. That's when the rubber meets the road. So to speak.

So here is OUR position on inclusion. Aka Mainstreaming. Aka, School.

First and foremost, I/we want what is best for Leighton. I want to know that she is happy, enjoys learning and makes friends. She will spend a tremendous amount of her life in school and therefore, its where she will need to WANT to be and LIKE to be.  My biggest fears are not academic. My biggest fears are social. Kids can be  cruel. And unintentionally cruel.

I am not talking about the vocal or even the physical bully's. Those aren't the ones that make me nervous. They will be easily identified. I am talking about the girls. The silent ones. The cliques. The slumber parties, the birthday parties, etc. The cool kids and not being invited to things. Or not being asked to be a part of any ones group.

I want to know that there is a group of kids that she will identify with, now and throughout her schooling. Those kids that she can eat lunch with, have a chat with at recess or in the hallway.

I think of Despicable Me and the scene on the playground - Lisa has Grew-ties! That tears me up every time I watch it. I worry so much about my kids being the victims of brats. Maybe because I remember when I had so not-so-nice things said about me in my adolescent years. It sticks with ya. Especially now with the Internet. Yikes!

Secondly, I want LB to learn things that will benefit her in life. I don't want her, or any of my kids, stuck in a classroom learning to take a test. I remember how bad that was back in my day and I can only imagine how bad it is now. I know how bad it is now. I want my kids to learn skills subjects and skills that they can and will use in life. Truth be told, I have used algebra as an adult. Sighh... I know, sorry to admit that. But I did.

If life skills are offered, I want her to take them as she needs them. If they can teach her how to shop in a grocery store, then shop on!

Third, if she is getting the one on one attention that is helping her be a better student, I am all for that. If she gets to be in a classroom environment that isn't as stressful for her, then that's where she needs to be. Regardless of the other inhabitants.

Do I want her to be challenged? Absolutely! Do I want her to be a Nobel prize winner? No way - unless she does. I also don't want her in a "typical" classroom where she isn't talked to, ignored because she is falling behind, scared to speak up, nervous to answer incorrectly, overwhelmed or having an aide do all of the work for her. No thanks!

I just want her to enjoy school.

I don't know how much inclusion LB will have. I don't know how much self contained education she will have. We won't  know until she is going to kindergarten. Based on the current path, I would guess she will need to be in a self contained class a great deal of time. And I wont apologize for that.

In an ideal world, she would be in a class that adjusts to the needs of her. That she would have an amazing teacher that has enough time and ability to adapt her teaching to LB's learning style. The teacher would have the funding and resources to assist all of her students and everyone would be in a Kumbaya-happy circle of singing every single day. But that's not realistic at this time.

Will I push for it - sure. Will I keep asking for it- sure. But I am not going to be shamed by the DS community for putting my kid in a classroom setting that works well with her learning at this time.

I have a husband with 20+ years of education and 16 years of teaching experience. I also have 365 days a year and 4 years of LB experience. We know OUR kid and what works for her.

Until next time...


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