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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The End of Times and Transition

As we begin the wind up of another school year, June always feels like a gong show at school. Kids, parents, and teachers are tired and cranky. Curriculum finishes up and school time is spent on endeavors other than the usual fare of the year.

For your average kid, this whole change in normal is at times overwhelming. For a Jared, it's a downright battle.

Jared's focus and attention span has really been off lately. He's fallen asleep at school twice in 8 days which resulted in almost 2 hour naps each time. He's spending more time in activities to regroup his senses.

It's been difficult having these things occur when you are working and can't be the mom you want to be. Jared's teacher has been great, going the extra mile to keep him in school when the days are especially trying. I really owe her a lot.

Two weeks ago I was in a meeting with a school board rep, the school admin, and Jared's teacher and assistant. It's difficult to sit through a meeting and hear about all the struggles your child has in school. In my head I think, "but he doesn't have that problem at home." It's then I have to remind myself that school and the outside world are not the same as the cocoon that home is.

In my communications with our principal, I have made clear what I want for Jared next school year. Jared's teacher has as well. I am very confident that Jared's needs are a priority and he will get what he needs next year to make things successful.

I have learned some valuable lessons about the world of school and children.

- Sometimes as a parent you need to set the emotions aside to take care of the business of educating your child. You need to be articulate. You need to see the whole picture and not just your side.

- You need to appreciate the fact that while your child is the number one priority for you, there are 20+ other classmates that also deserve an education. That doesn't mean a child with disabilities should be excluded from a classroom. It means that as a parent you need to communicate and collaborate with the teacher to create the best balance possible.

- Educate school staff about the needs of your child. Don't assume they know. I have asked for specific staff for Jared next September. I explained why I felt the way I did and what I felt the benefits would be. I explained why certain other staff wouldn't be good choices and what the potential results would be from such a combination.

- Be available for parent/teacher communication. You need to establish a relationship with the teacher. I know a parent who is so skeptical of the system, but she is also a parent who makes it difficult for teachers to meet with. She is not participating. So her child is difficult to raise and the school is the enemy. I know the school wants to do more for the child, but in a sense their hands are tied without the cooperation of the parents.

- I have to remember that when I hear about Jared's struggles, it's not a reflection of my failures as a parent. It is hard not to take it personally. I have also learned that two good days in a row is just that. It doesn't mean we have turned a corner and things will be cheery from now on. On the flip side, a bad day is a bad day. It doesn't mean all is lost.

This has been a huge year for us. What a roller coaster it has been. Emotionally it has been exhausting. I have felt like James, Jordan, and Jackson have been neglected in many ways for much of the school year. Between Jared and work, I managed to miss both of James' band concerts and all his award recognitions. I could only participate in a couple of school events for Jordan and Jackson. I know that isn't much for some, but for me that is disappointing. I hope I can be more available for the other boys as we move forward.

Jared is really unsure of what life will be like without his teacher. She is essentially another mother to him and they truly have a bond that is rare. She assured him that she would always be there for him if he needed her even though he will have a new teacher in September. The best thing is, I know she means it.

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