Reilly had to jump in to math of course mid year. She was a bit nervous about this because she could never quite grasp the math fully at her old school. After just a few days of some extra practice to grasp the concepts, she was right on board with all the new math, even though they were concepts she hadn't studied yet. She said the teacher really explained everything well and she was even doing extra pages in her workbook! Reilly brought home her first progress report and of course has kept her good grades - but even better was seeing her 98 in math. Yep...98. Reilly had struggled with math at her old school - she had maintained a high B, but had to spend literally hours at home learning the concepts since many were thrown at her in school but not thoroughly taught for fluency. This last year, we had received letters that she would need tutoring in math or she may not be passed on to the next grade in that subject (again, this is a girl who had a high B....she wasn't failing....but she needed tutoring)..... so needless to say, Reilly was EXTREMELY happy with her A in math and even happier that she understood the concepts. Even with her missed sick days, the teacher worked with that, cut out the busy work and class papers, and only had her make up the tests or important lessons of the week. Her teacher told us when kids are sick they need to rest, get better, and concentrate on catching up on concepts and any missed tests - the daily work is not important to make up and would only bog her down. That really helped her to stay on task and not be inundated with paper after paper that really weren't helping her grasp concepts. I must say, I love Reilly's new teacher and her positive outlook. I love that she seems to teach things thoroughly and works them hard during the day to make sure they really grasp concepts. This helps Reilly to leave school feeling accomplished, and also having a full understanding of the lessons from the day - not to mention, it cuts down on the homework since things have been taught correctly during the school day. Win - win.
Kaitlin is probably the biggest change for us overall. She is thriving on learning, she is making a ton of friends, and she cannot wait to get on the bus to go to school each day. This is a stark difference from the very subdued girl we started to see go downhill over the last year at her old school. At her last conference, Kaitlin was told she has a "reading problem." There was no back up testing, no official reading specialist who had done a proper evaluation, and I just wasn't seeing it at home. So Kate left quite disappointed and held on to that notion that she had a "problem." It especially bothered me this was said in front of her - an 8 year old shouldn't hear those things. Conferences should really be adult only so free speaking can occur and teachers and parents can openly discuss a child's performance. Now I had a child who was focused on her new "reading problem" and she was losing joy in something she used to love to do. I encouraged her to just forget about that and try again at the new school and if something came up, we would properly diagnose it and get her help so it didn't impact her other academics. Well what we have found couldn't be farther from the original opinion. Kaitlin is reading extremely well. She grasps concepts in comprehension and in recent nights, I have even had to go tell her to stop reading so she will go to sleep! Her teacher knew our concerns going in, and has said that so far, she sees no issues with Kaitlin and reading. She said, quite the contrary - that Kaitlin is a smart and energetic girl. The teacher said of course Kaitlin is quiet most of the time, but that with some encouragement and light hearted fun, she is always able to make Kaitlin feel comfortable to read aloud in class. Kate even told me she now likes to read out loud in class! (something she used to dread). Kaitlin's new teacher even makes an effort to always emphasize how much of a blessing Kaitlin is to her class and her teaching experience. Hearing things like that from the person that has your child all day at school is very reassuring that they are not only being taught well and excelling in academics, but that they are also loved - which is so important at those younger ages! I am so happy for Kate that she is loving school again and that she has a loving environment to fuel that curiosity for learning! And as if it could get any better - Kaitlin has her lunch at the same time as Meagan. Can we say cute overload? :)
Anna is really enjoying making new friends. She plays with any kid in her class and is very sweet. She is excelling at all her subjects and judging by the comments coming home on her papers, her teacher really loves to read all her writing paragraphs and stories. Anna is extremely creative and has shown this at her new school. Her writing has improved drastically and now she even writes more than is required because she thinks it is fun. She has been able to learn a lot, and is excelling at reading and math. While doing this, she is also having a lot of fun. Being only in first grade, the teacher likes to push them academically, but, she also has a classroom that moves a lot. They still have centers and fun activities to break up the day because she said while they can start to learn "seriously" they won't take learning seriously if it's not fun. She's correct! These kids are 6 and need a fun environment. Anna's centers focus around math or numbers but in creative ways and really lets the kids get up and do different things during the day. Anna loves this because as she told me, she is "not sitting and writing all day and getting cramps." ha - the eyes of a 6 year old! I am really enjoying watching her blossom in her new classroom.
Last but not least, Meagan has absolutely blossomed at school. If you remember the first week we did have tears - as expected - with me dropping her off and throughout her day as she would get distracted but then want mommy and cry. I am happy to report that last week, we had no tears. :) Meagan absolutely LOVES school. In just two weeks it has helped her with so much. She is following the routine of the class, and is learning to follow outside instructions. The teacher gives the students jobs like in any typical preschool, but incorporates them with therapies for the kids. The students are shown a picture chart and they indicate (however they can whether it's a noise, pointing, or a look) which job they would like for the day. For example, Meagan picked the flower last Tuesday. This meant her job was to water the plants. The teacher coordinated this job with Meagan's PT. So when the PT came, they worked on walking to get the watering can, walking to fill it up, walking to the plants, and then standing while the PT helped Meagan water all the flowers. On Wednesday, Meagan was line leader. That day they worked on routine and structure - how Meagan had to stay with the class and stay in line, but lead when they would tell her to..etc. And she wasn't confined to her chair either. Meagan scoots on her bottom - so she leads on her bottom :) This made me so happy to hear because that's Meagan - that's how she gets around and her teachers just incorporate it right along with the class. They aren't worried about Meagan being in a chair or being "upright" like "other kids".... if Meagan needs to move in line, or move about the room, or other things, she does so - scooting along on her bottom. And the other kids don't even bat an eyelash - that's just Meagan and in two short weeks, they get it and accept her for it. That is inclusion. And it's a wonderful thing.
Of course with preschool comes all the silly crafts - Meagan made a few this week. She made a handpainted turkey to help decorate for Thanksgiving and also made hand cut outs that the teachers helped form in to a turkey hat. It's quite cute - and quite hilarious. Even these little tasks help Meagan in so many ways. For example, she cannot stand things on her hands - even working at home it's always a battle. But in school, she seems to be making progress. The first two days paint was put on her hands she cried and didn't like it. But upon seeing the other kids doing it, and the teacher really talking to her about how it's fun to make things, last week when paint was put on Meagan's hands, she didn't cry. She instead studied her newly painted hand, and then reached out and asked the teacher "what color?" So she is making progress in sensory areas too which is so important.
When I picked Meagan up on Wednesday from school, she was all smiles. She gave a big "hi MOMMY!!!!" and I loaded her in the car. I leaned down and gave her a hug and said "So Meagan do you like school?" Meagan sat about 30 seconds (we have delay with brain and her retrieval process... :) ) and finally looked at me and said "yessssss" I said "That's so great Meagan! What do you love about school?" .... another 30 seconds went by and Meagan dipped her chin into her chest and with the biggest smile said "I have friends." School rules.