Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Day of School

Well, it's a new year in a new school...time to get back to our regular routine.

Emma was pretty pumped about starting a new school this year. It's what we've been fighting for and we're really hoping it was worth the fight. Emma will spend most of her school day in an AAP class (academic assistance program). It's a very small class of special needs kids (I think about twelve) with three teachers. Rather than have Emma sit in a regular classroom where she doesn't understand anything, this class will teach her according to her abilities and build on what she has learned so far. Then for the other part of her day, she will be integrated into a regular classroom for art, gym, music, etc.

Since this school is further away from home, Emma qualifies for free bussing. We were pretty happy about that. And since the route she is on has no bus stops near our house, she gets picked up right at the front door. On Friday I let her get on the bus and then I drove down to the school to make sure she got there ok because she seemed a little bit nervous about these changes. But when she got off the bus, she had already made friends with some kids and was ready to start her day.

I took her to her class and was quickly whisked off to meet the principal who had concerns over Emma's age. Apparently the school just discovered that Emma will be turning nine this year and is only going into grade two. They put the pressure on to have Emma put into grade three so she is with kids closer to her age. Also, there is a group of kids in her AAP class that are also in grade three, so they would be integrated into the same regular classroom, whereas there are no AAP kids in grade two.

This has been something knawing at the back of my mind for awhile. The reason Terry and I decided to keep Emma back a couple of years is that we were hoping this would give her an opportunity to catch up on things not learned when she was younger and then she could progress normally once she caught up. We have come to the realization though, that our theory is not working. Emma still is nowhere near a grade two level and we realize we can't just hold her back forever, or she will be so much bigger than all the other kids which will be especially awkward when she becomes a teenager. So we've decided to put her into grade three. She will receive the same teaching in her AAP class regardless of what grade she is in and that's all we really care about. And we're hoping having Emma in with kids a little bit older than she's used to will help her to mature a little and act a little more her age. Again, this may be wishful thinking, but we'll see how it goes. It's really hard some days to know what's best for her and I really hope that we are making the best decisions we can. All I know for sure is that physically she has really grown up over the last few months! She has grown a ton and looks way older than the grade two kids and will fit much better into grade three.

We met with one of Emma's teachers the day before she started school. It was an hour long meeting and the teacher asked some very good questions. We were able to tell her what we would like her to focus on in terms of Emma's teaching and she seemed quite supportive and understanding. The biggest disappointment, though, is that she told us the school board is re-evaluating special education this year and they are really focused on "inclusion" which means it's highly likely that Emma will end up back in a regular classroom next year. Only children with extreme disabilities will be in a separate class. It was really frustrating to hear that and Terry and I were ready to start up the fight once again, but I didn't want to start Emma's school year on the wrong foot with her teacher so we kept most of our opinions to ourselves. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I conclude with some pics taken on Emma's first day. She is growing up WAY too fast!

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