Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back to School for Our Last Year of Preschool!

Exactly a year ago, I posted our back to school post for the 2014-2015 school year. This is our back to school post for the 2015-2016 year!

I'm so impressed with myself for nailing this post topic two years in a row. BOOM!

Our kids are 4-year-olds now, so this is their last year of preschool. They are all still in blended classrooms that include SPED students, which we really like. And we really like their teachers again this year as well! We are actually one week into the school year, and I have to say, the teachers and paras are what make it worth taking the kids to this school. They totally pour into our kids, and fully love them. They are truly amazing women!

The official first day of school photo:
Abby, Elijah, Caleb, and Ellie

Take a look at Caleb's face. LOL! The kids have to get out of bed at 6:30am every morning for a 7:30am start time. Who schedules preschool to start that early?! Oh my stars. I feel his pain!

Mrs. Rachel and Caleb

This year, Caleb is in a room with one teacher and one para (last year he had 1 teacher and 2 paras) and so far it is working out. There was some talk with the SPED coordinator about placing him in a low incidence room this year, but we pushed hard against that. A low incidence room is one where all of the children are SPED and usually more severe. There are a lot fewer kids and extra paras in those rooms because of the level of needs. We pushed against it because we really feel that Caleb can succeed in a blended classroom (part SPED/part normal - although I hate to use that word). He is SMART, and he CAN learn just as much as other kids. He is mild to moderate on the spectrum, and we just didn't think that putting him in a room with severe kids was the right move. Thankfully, the SPED coordinator listened to our concerns, went back over his IEP paperwork again, and agreed to place him back in a blended classroom. He was placed with Mrs. Rachel who seems to really understand and grasp his issues and picked up immediately on tools to help him. She's already put him in charge of carrying a basket to and from the cafeteria from meals to help keep him focused (I think she just puts some random stuff in it. Lol!) His para is also a really wonderful woman who we've already grown to appreciate! Mrs. Pam is a retired school teacher and seems to "get him" and love him for who he is. He is already falling into a routine in the room, and I can tell this will be a very successful year!

See the photo above? He was laughing so hard he couldn't keep his eyes open! :)

Abby and Mrs. Bruns

Our sweet Abby is with Mrs. Bruns this year. Mrs. Bruns seems to be a really good match for Abby's personality and told me that Abby is "showing the new kids in preschool the ropes." Hahaha!! Sean and I are both hoping that's a good thing! Abby's main SPED issues are related to social/emotional coping skills, but Mrs. Bruns told me that so far, her transitions during the day are going well.

While I was working on this post yesterday, I asked Abby what her para's name was. She told me it was Mrs. Bird. When I dropped her off at school today, I asked her teacher. Apparently the para's name is Mrs. Linda and no birds are involved, but, I had already made the graphic, so....sorry, Mrs. Linda! Sometimes Abby is a little slow on the uptake. ;)

Mrs. Brittany and Elijah

Elijah is back with Mrs. Brittany and Mrs. Dee this year, and he could not possibly be more delighted! He actually has a little crush on Mrs. Brittany that started last year. It totally cracks us both up when Elijah walks up to her and says, "You have nice shoes!" Oh, they start early! And Mrs. Dee is just a riot! On the second day of school, Elijah walked in with bug bites all over his legs because I let him go outside to play and forgot to spray him down. She took one look at him and said, "You let my baby get all eaten up by BUGS?!" I apologized profusely, but love that she keeps such a close eye on him.

Sean and I are really happy that Elijah has his same teacher and para from last year. They are really awesome ladies, and know how to handle him well. We have a lot of trust in them, and appreciate the huge progress Elijah made last year. They've already reported that he is more settled and focused this year....they aren't sure if it's because he grew up a little bit over the summer or if it's the essential oils I slather him in before he leaves the house, but something changed. Granted, we still have a long. long way to go with the focusing, but everyone has high hopes for even more progress this year!

Mrs. Kesley and Ellie

Ellie is back with one of her most favorite people in the whole world: Mrs. Kelsey! She could hardly stand being away from her this summer, because she looks up to her so much. I'm routinely told, "Well, Mrs. Kelsey says...." Honestly though, Mrs. Kelsey is a wonderful role model for Ellie and she simply blossomed being in her classroom last year. This is such a perfect pairing!

Right now, Ellie's para, Mrs. Liz, is a sub while her regular para is out. We haven't met the regular para yet, but hope she is a lot like Mrs. Liz who seems to be very attentive to the kids and their needs. I'll have to update on that down the road!

Last year of preschool, and kindergarten is only a year away. Wow! I feel like there is a lot to accomplish this year before we head into elementary school.

Each of the kids will be tested before kindergarten to decide whether or not they need continuing special education services. In preschool, they give SPED kids a general school diagnosis of "Child with a Developmental Delay". In kindergarten, they make that much more specific and that is when labels start coming into play. We are praying that several of our kids will not qualify for services anymore after the progress they have made. We know that at least one or two will probably need continuing help, and we will fight tooth and nail for that, but it shouldn't be a thing that they deal with for their entire school career. The developmental pediatrician told us last year that he hopes to "un-diagnose" Caleb's autism in the next few years as he continues to adapt.  I think my biggest fear is having Caleb go all the way through school with a label that will limit him. We actually don't see his autism as a limitation, but rather as just a different set of wiring that contributes to how smart he is. It's just a matter of unlocking his brain in a way that makes sense to him. Anyway, now I'm just rambling. Long story short, we have big hopes for this year for all of our kids, and we know that God will take care of their kindergarten year and testing as we work toward that goal.

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  1. I hope your kids have a wonderful school year. You got fantastic pictures of all of them. Those big, genuine smiles suggest that they love their teachers!

  2. "I want to be Elsa when I grow up" Me too, Ellie. Me too.


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