A Good Start
Half way into October and I am amazed how quickly time has flown, since school started this year back in September.
Looking back at Leon’s first 6 weeks of 3rd grade, I can’t help but smile. I am delighted at how things have gone so far. We have his IAP in place, he has possibly the very best match in a teacher that I could ever hope for, he has come to terms with having a Para following him around all the time, his confidence is up and he’s doing great, and dare I say it? He may actually like school.
I’d never say that to his face of course. He’d deny it all the way up, down and sideways; for sure. But I can honestly say that I have not heard the words “I HATE SCHOOL” in at least 4-5 weeks. And considering it was his daily mantra all last year and every so often over the summer whenever school was mentioned, I’d say that is amazing!
I’d say it’s due to a good combination of things. The first being how much he seems to have grown over the summer. He’s taller, yes, but I am talking about how much he has matured. He turns eight next month and I am just amazed at how grown up he is all of a sudden. The way he talks, the way he carries himself, the way he relates to others, the way he thinks… He is growing up right before my eyes!
Once he was my baby boy snuggled up in my arms, then he became my big boy, holding my hand to cross the street, what comes next? As much as I want to hold on to his hand until the end of time, I know I’ll have to let go someday. Seeing how mature and wise he is becoming, I know he is well on his way. It makes me so proud and yet so sad at the same time.
I also have to give credit to the school itself. There have been a lot of changes at our school. The usual changes that are imposed on schools, like standardized testing, and the like, of course. But also a lot of changes to what is being offered to the students both academically and socially. Last year our school got a new principle, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you would be right, if you’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not missing our old principle. She wasn’t mean or anything, she was just very uptight, and stringent, she was set in her ways and very resistant to …fun and lightheartedness. My one real qualm with her personally was, her suspending Leon from school when he was in 1st grade for managing to get off school property and walk all the way home unsupervised rather than penalize the people responsible for allowing the whole thing to happen in the first place. In the end officials were called and things were rectified, but her poor judgment has forever left a bad taste in my mouth. I still have nightmares about the whole situation. It was a very scary time for us, one that I admit still haunts us all.
Our new principal is a breath of fresh air! She has brought so much change to the school in the year that she has been here. She has made school more enjoyable without sacrificing it academically. Learning has become fun for the kids, parents feel more welcome and are able to be more active in their child’s schooling, and there is a larger sense of community since she has taken on her role as principle. Leon enjoys the extra touches of lightheartedness that she brings to the school. Things like spirit week with crazy hat day, or costume parades on Halloween, or even the start of a student council for which he was eager to try out for. Her incentive programs have touched Leon personally, last year he was “Caught Being Good” twice, and plans to get caught again. And just last week he came home with The Star of the Month certificate, of which he was very proud. He is enjoying his school so much more now that it has become a fun place to learn.
Add to all this, a terrific teacher, and Leon can’t help but LIKE school. Again I wouldn’t press him on that, but when asked about his teacher he will out-and-out tell you “She’s nice, I like her”. For him to think it and feel it is one thing but for him to actually say it, that’s quite another. His standard responses to most questions about how he likes something or someone are usually a very indifferent “it’s okay” or “fine” type of answer. I have to say though I very much agree with him!!!
Leon’s first day of school always brings out a teeter-tottering of emotions and nervousness in me, but for some reason his starting 3rd grade was especially nerve-racking. I guess it’s because everyone always talks about how hard school becomes in third grade. More is expected from students, responsibilities get larger, homework assignments take longer, more activities; like chorus and orchestra take up more of their precious time. Life for a third grader gets a bit more demanding.
Demanding…. Now that’s not something that fits well into the life of an ODD/ADHD child. Demanding, is something that Leon’s teacher is not! Accommodating, nurturing, open minded and open-hearted, those are words that I would use to describe her teaching style.
I was so nervous about Leon starting 3rd grade that I sent him to school on his first day with a big fat envelope stuffed with 5 type written pages about Leon. Yea…I know it’s a little much. The envelope contained a letter from me introducing myself and Leon, along with a page of helpful motivators and techniques we use with Leon to help him stay in check and last but not least a copy of the accommodations that I wanted included in his 504 IAP. Of course when I sent all of that in with him on the very first day of school, I was worried about what she would think; would she be receptive… would she resent being bombarded on the first day? I didn’t know how it would be received!
I was very, very pleasantly surprised! She was very receptive. Not only did she respond in a letter, (a real letter, not a just a short note), but she also called me in the evening from her home. That definitely earned some big time points with me. She took time out of her own day to reassure me about my child. Awesome!
I met her in person at the school’s open house; in which she took even more time with both Ron & I, one-on-one, to sit down for close to an hour to discuss a plan for Leon. I was blown away. And I left there so reassured.
And dare I say it one more time? …I think Leon may actually LIKE school!
But shhh… don’t tell him, it’s a secret!