Friday, September 2, 2011

Prepping for Kindergarten (The Letter)

It's the last weekend before kindergarten begins.  And nervous is a complete understatement.  I am scared. Worried.  Anxious.  Excited.  I've been feeling all of these things all summer long but I will be honest.  I haven't looked at his IEP since our last meeting in June.  After that meeting, I put it away and took a time out from special needs.  And since The Boy's last day of SEIT/related services, I haven't done anything truly constructive with him.  

No.  We have not colored.  
Nope.  We haven't practiced our cutting.
Did we play turn taking games?  Memory? Hungry Hungry Hippo? Don't break the ice?  
Uh uh, we haven't done that either.

The truth is - we needed a break.  We needed a summer to ourselves.  To just be. To take a quiet stroll in the neighborhood without asking him to label objects.  To go to the playground without having him work on social skills.  To sit and watch TV.  Sometimes we'll talk but silence is okay too.  To chill out on the sofa.  The Boy, reading his book.  Me reading mine.  I did not want to be ruled by routines, even though I know, I know routines are crucial.  I wanted him to do what he wanted to do, when he felt like doing it.  Not having to cut his activity short because a therapist was knocking on the door.  I didn't want to spend our summer thinking about goals and things The Boy should try and "catch up on."  

There is time for all of that.  WE have time.        

But this weekend, I have to get down to business.  This weekend, I have a project: to write an introductory letter to The Boy's teacher.

Over the weekend, I'll review The Boy's IEP.  I'll take into consideration the goals he's made progress with (because even though I'm not keeping track - I am always keeping track).  And with that in mind, I'll write my introduction letter to The Boy's new teacher.

My letter will include: 
  • backstory (when he was diagnosed; previous therapies)
  • the progress he's made over the last year
  • his usual disposition
  • his strengths
  • his weaknesses
  • activities he enjoys
  • activities that are frustrating
  • items he'll work for
  • our concerns
  • any self stimulating behaviors (what he does/when he does it/how we redirect him)
  • what goals that mean the most for us
  • phone numbers and the best way to reach me, The Husband or my mother in case of an emergency. 
I wrote a letter for last year's teacher and she said it was extremely helpful for her.  It also works to your benefit.  Teachers will immediately recognize that you are an involved parent and it starts off the year on a positive note.  It says you are willing to be a true partner in your child's education.  And I believe partnership is crucial for progress.

I am going into this school year with an open mind.  I spent all of last year worrying and crying and stressing over finding the appropriate placement.  And the truth is, I would be apprehensive over any school The Boy was going to - even the ones I believed were  "the ultimate dream school."  In the end, it really did all work out - not without heartache, obviously but The Boy is going to kindergarten!  And I don't want my fear or anxiety to overshadow my excitement.

And if this school is not the place for The Boy, I've made peace with that too.  And I know what will need to be done.  But I won't worry about that right now.

Right now, I have a letter to write.  Uniforms to wash.  A backpack to organize.  And a haircut appointment to be scheduled (not for me...for The Boy) - that should be fun... 




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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.