Monday, January 18, 2010

here we go again

It seems to be that time of year again.
No, not new year's resolutions.
No, no.
It is the time of year when I start agonizing and worrying and wondering and stressing out over where Samuel will be going to school next year.

For those that may not know, my 2 older kids go to a rather "academically challenging" charter school. Class sizes capped at 25 students. Some advantages in many ways. But no self-contained special needs classes. They can only offer specialized "support."

Samuel is at the public school right now in a small group Special Needs Kindergarten class (about 6 kids) because we felt like he couldn't handle being in a regular classroom yet. He kind of shuts down in larger groups. We tried having him go to the mainstream class for just 15 min. of morning circle time for a month or so, but his teacher recommended that he's not quite ready for it yet and would benefit more from participating in the small group circle time where he is gaining confidence and starting to participate more.

So. We have tossed around the idea of having him redo kindergarten in a regular classroom next year, having another year of maturity and speech therapy under his belt. And that could be either at the charter school or the public school. Or he may (????) be ready for a regular 1st grade class, again either at the charter school or public school. But the charter school does a lottery to fill their available spots for students - and this is in FEBRUARY. Which means we need to know by then whether or not we want him to have a spot. And we need to know which grade.

So I'd like to get Samuel's teacher's opinion of where she thinks he would be best placed for next year. But. They tell me they don't make formal placement decisions until around May. So they can only give an unofficial preliminary opinion, and rather reluctantly at that. So frustrating.

Because if she thinks he should be either in a regular kindergarten or 1st grade class, then I feel like he might as well be at the charter school with his siblings. If for some reason, he is going to be in a self-contained class or getting more involved help at the public school, then that would be the best place. grrrrrr. . . . . decisions, decisions.

I am not even sure what the possible options might be. Hopefully the teacher will at least be able to clarify that for me this week when we meet together.

I think there is:
1. an autism class (where he doesn't fit)
2. a learning disabled class (not exactly fit)
3. emotional/behavior issue class (not exactly fit)

It seems we are caught again in this quagmire of feeling like there isn't anywhere that is "best" - he doesn't really fit in any of the options. So we just have to weigh it out and pick the "least bad." Ugh. And I don't think homeschooling would be the best option either, because he really needs specialized help that I am not qualified to provide for him. And besides, I really need a break from his needs sometimes, honestly. He really needs to learn to be with other kids, too.

So anyway - that's on my mind. I am also still struggling somewhat to get my mind to come back to earth from all that crazy "flashbacking." I know it seems unbelievably silly. But the back of my mind is still spinning back in 1990 somewhere (give or take a few years). I'm feeling very distracted and fluffy-brained. So if any of you should feel like slapping my face and telling me "snap out of it," I just might appreciate it. I could really use my brain again, should anyone happen to find it hiding from me somewhere. Thanks a bunch . . .


girlysmack said...

Kristen, I just finished skimming through this book called Parenting a Struggling Reader. It dealt mostly with children who have learning disabilities of some sort and how inadequate schools/teachers can be at recognizing and addressing all of the individual needs of their students.

Anyway, the main thing I took away from the book is how important it is for a child who is having trouble to have an advocate. (Usually his/her mother.) That the advocate read extensively, like you have done, and be as informed as possible about her child's legal rights. That there are places like Sylvan or the Lindamood-Bell clinics where you can pay to have an assessment done or you could order a testing kit online, which sounded better to me since your child might be anxious at a testing center and perform badly. I don't know how much a school would trust a test conducted at home, so maybe if a teacher or librarian observed the test or maybe the results are just for your own information...

Maybe an outside tutor would be helpful in your case. Since you feel you would not be able to homeschool (and I am soooo with you on that one! I just could not do it and I recognize that!) maybe a tutor who your son could grow close to and trust would be a good fit. The book addressed the fact that most teachers are not equipped to teach children who think outside of the box. And there must be tutors, like speech therapists, who are educated to specifically help children who learn differently. Could your pediatrician recommend one?

I don't know. I am totally unfamiliar with your situation--your son's situation and your financial situation--and I'm sure with all of the time and thought and prayer you have devoted to this that you have already thought of a tutor and testing and all that. But I thought I'd still throw it out there.

I read this book for reasons of my own and since it is a fairly new concern of mine, I cannot imagine the hours and hours you have devoted worrying about your children. I have been worrying and praying and second-guessing myself for only a month now. Girl, I feel for you. And I will pray for you. But the bottom line is, second-guessing yourself aside, you are your son's best advocate. You know him the best. That is what this book kept stressing: that the parents were always better aware of what was going on than the teachers because they have known their child much longer and they observe their child's behavior outside of school, too. So whatever you decide, you will do the right thing! :)

Kristen said...

thanks for your input, girlysmack. :) I do appreciate it.

bonitinha said...

Can you put him in the charter school lottery just in case? That way if he gets a spot and you decide that's the best placement it's there for you. If you don't get a spot, then you still have a couple of options at the public school. Or if you do get a spot and then decide the better fit is elsewhere you can give it up, right? Anyway, if you can sign up for the lottery without committing, I'd do it so you at least have that option available when the time comes to make a decision. I hate big schooling decisions like these. So stressful!!! Good luck.

Kristen said...

but which grade to put him in the lottery?! I do have to decide that. And they just really want to have a final decision as soon as possible so if we don't want it, they can offer it to someone else (last year they called me over and over again for months wanting to know if I was going to give up his spot). Anyway - the sibling pool is smaller than the regular lottery, so it is probable that he would get a spot. anyway . . .

Kerri said...

Just want to tell you to follow your heart. I honestly believe that if we put our requests before the Lord and seek His wisdom above all else He will guide our hearts in the right direction. Remember that He is in control and He has a plan for Samuel, so He will help accomplish it in him no matter what. =) (And, even if we "mess up", God can make good out of anything!)

It might not be an easy decision, but the Lord will give you the strength to make one as well as the strength to deal with the consequences, whatever they are. =) Praying for you, friend. Keep looking up!

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