When we sent Colin to school for the first time after aging out of Early Intervention, we were all really excited. It was time for Colin to start his next educational chapter as we were finding that it was hard to keep him on task in our own home when the therapists would come. He had already been exposed to the school setting because he had been going to daycare since he was 5 months old and always had a very regular schedule when it came to school.
Our initial planning meeting and IEP setup with the school district had gone really well despite how nervous we were. That first meeting was really hard for us because we were not sure what to expect and because despite any research we had done, we still felt as though we didn't really know what we needed. As it always was, it was also difficult to hear the things that Colin wasn't doing yet or how he tested in different areas. At that time, Colin wasn't even walking yet so that was a big stressor for us as well thinking of possibilities for what we might need to do if he still wasn't by the time he turned 3 and headed to school. The recommended placement was what we wanted for Colin so that made us happy with where we were all headed.
Colin has now started his second full year in a pre-K self contained classroom with the same teacher and support staff (physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, etc.) that he started with at the age of 3 (aside from a minor change in paraprofessionals). We have really seen growth since he started on that first day with his behavior (although we have seen growth, we have also seen some changes in behaviors as well), social skill development, self help skills, speech/communication, gross and fine motor skills and academics (letter, shape, and color recognition, counting, etc.). While some areas have had more growth than others, we know that we need to focus on any progress even if they are small changes.
In communicating with his group, we find that he has days of "skoochie" behaviors (not following directions well) but then lots of good days as well (I try to remind myself some days that he IS still a toddler). He definitely has his preferences of tasks and that is often indicative of what kinds of behaviors we might see. We always know the things that he is working on at school which is helpful for follow through at home. While we obviously focus on the academic tasks, we are also trying to work on other areas as well. I have observed through our social interactions with friends with children that Colin does have some difficulties initiating play with friends or following through if someone else initiates. This is something that is encouraged at school along with focusing on other behaviors as well.
We feel exceptionally lucky to not only have started out with a great team while Colin was in Early Intervention, but now to have continued down this road with a group that Colin feels comfortable with and who are pushing and challenging him to work towards accomplishing various skills. We have open communication and feel that we are all working together so that Colin will be ready for Kindergarten in less than a year! (GASP)
I have lots of fear and anxiety when I think about that next step in IEP planning and placement for kindergarten, but I also feel that it is because we will be starting a new chapter of the unknown. When Colin was born, we were fearful of EVERYTHING that lied ahead for us but as we get to each new step in our journey together with Colin we realize that it's not as scary as we were anticipating. There are big things ahead for our little boy!