Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ending of the '18-'19 School Year Part I

I have been seriously negligent in keeping this blog up to date and I was reminded of how important it was to me recently when I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends I met through the blog 10 years ago. With the rise in the use of social media (especially for me), it has become easier to put up a quick post on a day to day basis then to sit down and put thought behind the things that I feel and want to say. If I look back even a few years ago, I was posting on an almost daily basis about the things that were happening. In the beginning, the blog was a designated to share specifically about Colin having Down Syndrome but as time went by, it was such a part of our normal life that it was actually almost hard to find things to talk about related to that. The posts have become so few and far between and I need to, if only for myself, get back in the wagon to continue to document our journey. 

The end of this school year saw Colin finishing up 3rd grade, Kailey finishing 2nd grade and Cody (which will be in Part II), finishing up pre-k. We were so fortunate because it was another great year for both of them and their teachers played such an integral role in the progress and successes they had throughout the school year. 

It's always so amazing to me to look at the beginning and end of school year photos to see how much the kids have changed physically, but then to recognize all of the other ways in which they have grown and matured as well. We were so incredibly grateful for Colin's team this year, comprised of a general education teacher (Kailey had her in Kindergarten), a special education teacher we hadn't had before (A-MAZING), his paraprofessional he has had for 4 years now, a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist (all therapists that have been with him for 5 years), case manager, various specials teachers, and a principal who continues to support him in so many ways. In school, Colin has classmates that recognize his differences but support and love him for who he is and allow him to feel safe and happy. We saw academic growth in many areas but continue to push through the most challenging areas to find ways that will allow him to make growth. His behavior has been "typical"; this year brought us some new things to work through which has primarily been the transition to "pre-teen". At times it was funny to laugh at (without him noticing) the things he would say when "talking back" but also frustrating because although they are "developmentally appropriate", handling them often times takes different/repetitive approaches. He remained involved in various different sports activities throughout the school year both with his typical peers and in communities with other athletes with special needs. Overall, he had a really great year and we are grateful for that! 

I am really proud of Kailey and how much she has grown and matured this year. She had a teacher we all adored (she was Colin's 2nd grade teacher last year) and Kailey so much so that she cried when the year ended because she was going to miss her so much. She did really well academically and in all honesty, we don't have to worry so much about that with her. She cares about doing well but appropriately so. We are grateful because she has a nice group of friends that she enjoys to spend time with. This year we saw a lot of changes in her because of our discussions related to Colin having Down Syndrome, which in turn, led to a lot of talks about differences and disability. We saw so many wonderful things out of her because of this new understanding and many instances of her being kind. What I love about our school community is that even though it's small, and Kailey is only a grade behind Colin, she has her own experiences, is her own person, and loves her school and where she is. This year, she has increased her involvement in different sports activities. She joined a travel soccer team and made a lot of growth playing defense (sometimes goalie!), she continued with her quest for black belt in Karate, completed a basketball clinic, and tried softball for the first time. She is becoming an athlete and I love that about her. At times she is still shy and bashful but I hope to see this change as her confidence continues to grow. 

While we are so proud of both Colin and Kailey for all they have been able to accomplish this year, we know they are able to have the successes they do because they feel safe, supported and loved in their school community. I can't say enough how much I love their school and how thankful I am for that. It's been an awesome 2018-2019 school year!