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Thursday, September 04, 2008

1:1 Update

The bottom line is they don't feel Kayla needs a 1:1 to shadow her throughout the whole school day; so they will be getting another classroom assistant to help Kayla during those times the teachers felt she needed the most individualized attention.

Her teacher was asked how things were going during times like library, music, & PE and she said as far as she knew there weren't any issues. If there were no one has mentioned them to her. So they felt Kayla did fine in those settings without needing a 1:1. They didn't think she needed one during lunch, or recess...except at the end. When they blow the whistle I guess Kayla pretty much ignores that LOL The teacher said someone was always having to go get Kayla and bring her in line which would make them late for computer lab. So this assistant will go round Kayla up right before they blow the whistle (they should have been doing that before if it was making them late).

One of the therapists asked if they were using the buddy system and the teacher said "oh yeah, they all want to be the one to hold Kayla's hand!" So the class leader for the day gets to do it and she said that helps Kayla stay in line when walking with the class (she tends to wander!)...and Kayla does have her turn being class leader as well. Her teacher said she does everything the other kids do, and in fact she just loves to hear Kayla recite the Pledge of Allegiance, said she gets a kick out of hearing her say it.

So it seems like they might just need this extra assistance when Kayla needs to be sitting at her desk concentrating on whatever work they are doing. If someone isn't right there with her she'll just get up and do her own thing. Having someone make sure she's doing what she's supposed to be doing will help.

The meeting wasn't without a few frustrations though.

In May when we did the initial IEP I asked about them using some sort of weighted item to see if that would help Kayla sit still, or stay in her chair for longer periods. I don't know if Kayla definitely has any sensory issues, no one has ever mentioned it, but I do wonder about it. I've heard having a weighted item can help kids settle down and not have to constantly get up. I was told they have some weighted items shaped like animals that can go in a child's lap but they had to have permission to use them; so I gave permission. It was put in her IEP. But no one has used this yet. I wonder if she's so fidgety and can't stay in her seat then why haven't they at least tried to use one to see if it would help? So that was brought up again.

Last year during parent/teacher conference I asked the OT assistant (the one who actually works with Kayla during school is different than the OT who goes to the IEP) if she was familiar with Handwriting Without Tears. She said they had it but she wasn't using it with her because Kayla wasn't ready for it. Huh? I thought the whole point of the program was to get her ready to write. I found out later that OT only knew about the Kindergarten workbook and not the preschool one.

So I asked the OT who was in yesterday's meeting about that program and she said yes they have the preschool one and yes they could see about starting it with Kayla.

Right after that her teacher mentioned they have a 1-hr time block for "writers workshop" and she wanted to know what she should be doing with Kayla during that time since she can't write. Someone (not anyone in the meeting yesterday) had told her to let her color during that time. Umm...no! She isn't going to sit there for an hour and just color. She already knows how to color so she isn't going to be learning anything further by just coloring. Her teacher said she did spend some time with her during that period going over writing the letter K. I know the teacher can't spend the whole hour with Kayla, I know she has to go around and spend time with each of the other kids as well, but Kayla isn't going to benefit by being allowed to color for the rest of that time (as much as she does enjoy it!).

So I'm thinking this writers workshop is the perfect time for someone to be working on the Handwriting Without Tears program with Kayla. The OT asked her teacher if she gave her some papers and handouts from a writing program could she use that with her during that time. But the program is more than just using papers and handouts - there are other materials that go along with it. You can't just give the teacher these papers and expect her to know or understand how the program works if she's not at all familiar with it. They have workshops for teachers to learn how to use it. We bought the program when we were at the convention in Boston and I still don't understand how exactly to implement it with Kayla, but I'm trying to work my way through the workbook and different activities.

I'm thinking the OT assistant that actually works with Kayla could come in the classroom during that time and work on the program with her. Right now she is pulled out for 1:1 with the OT for 1/2 hr 2x a week. I think we need to amend that as she is really behind in fine motor skills and learning to write. They'll have to check with the OTA about changing her schedule around to see Kayla at the time they do the writers workshop.

I also suggested they try using a timer...ie..."Kayla you need to sit here and work on x,y,z until the timer goes off, then you can do x,y,z." We've started using it during dinner when she wants to leave the table constantly. I set it for between 5-10 min and tell her she has to sit at the table with us and when the timer goes off she can get down. It seems to be helping, so hopefully they'll do that in school too.

At the end of Sep we have parent/teacher conferences...I'll ask how things are going during the writers workshop and if need be will call for another IEP to amend it so the OT is in the classroom working on that writing program with her.

I also found out they hired another Kindergarten teacher so they will be taking students from the 3 current classes and making a 4th one. Kayla will stay where she is, but at least the class size will be a little smaller.

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Amy said...

I'm happy that it sounds like things are going fairly well. I'm sure the extra 1:1 time will work too. I know it is frustrating when you make suggestions and nothing is done about them as I've had this with my kids too.

P.S. And what kid wants to come back in from recess anyway! :-)

rylie's mom said...

It sounds like she's doing really good. And it's so cute how all the other kids want to help her!

CrackerJacks said...

I am so impressed at how on top of things you are. I am glad you had the meetings and spoke up when needed.

I agree with Amy, what kid stops playing at recess the first time the whistle blows?!

As for the whole writing thing, here's my 2 cents!

SHE IS IN SCHOOL, aren't the teachers suppose to teach her to write her letters? Why should she be set aside from learning? I understand a teacher cannot be next to her all the time, but it's not fair to Kayla to let her color during this time. Kayla probably wants to learn to write just as much as the kid next to her.

Keep up the good work Michelle!

Killlashandra said...

It's good to read the 1:1 meeting was completely frustrating for you. I do agree with you that during the writers workshop if someone could work with her on her own writing that would be awesome. Thanks for the link too. I'm having absolutely no luck with getting W.W. interested in writing or even coloring for that matter.

I'll cross my fingers for you for the next p/t conference. :)

Jennifer said...

De-lurking to say that you amaze me. You are such a wonderful Mom and both of your kids are blessed to have you at their side.

I was glad to come here today with an update. I am sorry parts of the meeting were frusterating but so happy to hear that her peers are treating her with love and respect. I was hoping to come here today and also read about your thoughts on Gov. Sara Palin...did you hear her speak last night and what are your thoughts? I notice you don't typically dive in to politics here (I completely understand why you would not!) but thought you may mention something since she addressed parents of special needs children last night. If you prefer not to discuss, I get it and respect your decision :)

Have a great day!

datri said...

At least there's some progress, that's always positive.

I keep hearing about HWT for our kids. I hope you keep us updated on how that goes.

My Kayla is 4 and doesn't even color or even hold a crayon or marker purposefully. She just likes to bang them.

I like the idea of a timer. I might try that. I can't get my Kayla to sit with me and do any work!

Mama Zen said...

It can be so frustrating to get an IEP properly implemented!

I've heard fabulous things about HWT. Hope you have good luck with it!

Mom24 said...

I'm so sorry for the frustration. If it makes it any better, it happens to lots of kids, not just kids with more obvious issues. I found out Jacob wasn't having reading last year--there wasn't a group for him in his class, but hello? A first grader DOES need reading thank you. After we agreed on what to do, it took weeks to get it implemented.

Congrats for not beating your head against a wall. You would think they would realize it would make their lives easier to do everything they can to help her succeed.

Hope things get implemented (finally), and that they help.

much more than a mom said...

I use HWT in my classroom and love it. It takes a lot of getting used to, but teachers can pick and choose what they have time for. It's great you're so on top of her learning - good job!

Sue said...

I'm glad you made some progress with the school. I feel your frustration. Just imagine the parents who aren't on top of things like you are. You're right - what good will come of Kayla coloring for an hour? She's there to learn, right? Keep plugging away with them and you'll get her what she needs.

I know Kayla has gotten in trouble at school sometimes for not coming in from outside when told. So it's not just her. ;)

Tara said...

Wow - you are really on top of things. I'm really impressed with all of your input and suggestions!!! Keep up the awesome work!
Kayla is very blessed to have a good mom :)

Bonita said...

It sounds like she's doing well especially since, if I remember correctly, she's on the younger end of the age spectrum. Obviously, she has a great personality that the kids love.

I don't know if this would help, but the publisher who publishes my writing curriculum offers a new writing program called Scribble to Scribe that teaches kids to write using music. The majority of products offered by my publisher are designed to work for both special needs kids and those who don't have special needs. If she likes music this might help her. You can check it out at www.teach4mastery.com.

Cammie Heflin said...

It sounds like good things are going to happen. Handwriting Without Tears is used at our school and our teachers and OT love it. Weighted items are good too, we have vests and all sorts of things, it wouldn't hurt to try it! Good luck!

PEA said...

Hello dear Michelle:-)

I just caught up on your last few posts and I'm so glad that the school is being cooperative in helping Kayla as much as they can. Hopefully all the new suggestions will work out better for her. I agree with the weighted item idea as well...I have a neighbour whose son couldn't sit still and they used a weighed down stuffed toy on him and it really helped. Big hugs to both kids:-) xoxo

Kari said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that you have a blog. You are so on top of Kayla's education and really impress me. I am falling apart over Pre k I can't imagine actual Kindergarten. I think I will start the timer thing with T now and maybe get a headstart. Getting him to sit or not run off are our biggest challenges right now. Hmm Maybe I should see if I can get the "handwriting without tears and start it at home"
Sounds like Kayla is doing fantastic. WTG Kayla. WTG Mom too :)

Yellow Mama said...

First time to visit. What precious children you have!

Tracey said...

What about mazes for her fine motor skills? I can't imagine ANY kid wanting to work on writing letters for an hour at a time. Mazes have helped all of my kids learn about controlling their hands on the papers.

It sounds like you're going to have to be really involved in her schooling, at least now, to make sure that no one is assuming that she CAN'T do things. She already knows more than the other kids her age, from what you've shown us here (letters, colors, numbers, etc.) Maybe she's a bit bored on repeating some stuff and gets antsy?

Omaha Mama said...

Go Michelle! It sounds like you did a great job in the meeting!!! It frustrates me, just reading about it. There are so many things Kayla can do to get ready to write. Holding the writing utensil correctly. Copying lines of different shapes and sizes, copying letters. Also kinesthetic things like sand on a cookie sheet, that kids can trace their name in the sand. So many things! I hope that they get a little more creative, instead of maintaining a status quo...
Good for you, for being such a wonderful advocate for your girl!

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

Sounds like for the most part the school is working with you. Have you thought about a weighted vest?

I really hope they implement the Handwriting without Tears.

Mindy said...

Thank you for sharing the HWT links. I'm going to do a bit more reading on the program. It sounds like a really neat system.

Glad to hear that Kayla is enjoying school and by the sound of it seems to be getting along well with everyone. The weighted item idea is interesting. It would be really neat if it helped.

If I was in that class, I'd fight to hold Kayla's hand too. :)

Beck said...

That sounds like a grueling meeting. I think you're such a great advocate for Kayla, and I hope the school is really willing to help do what's best for her as well.

Lilith Silvermane said...

Michelle, You know what I love about you? The fact that you are so dedicated to your children. So many parents don't even show up to those meetings and when they do, they have no questions or suggestions.

You are an amazing person, and your daughter chose the best mother in the world for her!

Michelle said...

I have a friend who uses Handwriting w/o Tears with her daughter, and I have to say - super cool.

It sounds like Kayla is definitely well loved at school - as she should be! The recess thing? Karly was the same way. Who wants to stop playing, anyway!?

Kim said...

Keep up the great work of staying on top of things! I know my biggest question will be how will you serve my child and ensure that she is given the education she deserves?

As a teacher, my advice is to just make sure she is being served as her IEP states. Believe it or not, there are teachers who have no clue what is on a child's IEP. That's pretty scary. Sometimes you may also see cut-backs and lack of help at schools that make it impossible to meet the needs of special children. I'm not saying that is the case at Kayla's school. Just continue to do what you're doing. Staying involved and voicing what you want to see happen. I agree coloring during writing is not fair to Kayla. She deserves to be taught writing modified to meet her needs. I hope everyone can get it worked out.

Christina said...

At least it seems like they care for her and take the time to exploring what would be best for Kayla. I hope it allw orks out fore the best, so I can follow your trail in a few years :-D

Karen said...

You really seem to know your way around this maze of special needs. It's good that she doesn't need a 1:1 but hopefully she gets an aide when one is needed.

Push for the Handwriting Without Tears - its awesome and I think she'd really do well with it. That would be perfect OT time as well, you're right.

Keep fighting the good fight. You're one of the moms that I look to for advice.

Christina said...

Sounds like things are going good for the most part. I agree that they should be doing the handwriting during the hour block, what a perfect time to do it! Kallie also had issues with sitting for periods of time to do work. I might have to try that weighted vest thing with her and see if it helps, where do I get one?

Nisa said...

First off I just wanna say that I love that you put more pics of Lucas on your sidebar. Yay!
It sounds like Kayla is really enjoying school. I'm happy that all the kids love her and I would also love to hear her say the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember when Jack was learning... It was so adorbale listening to him try to get it right. I don't remember my kids ever "practicing it" they learned it at school. I was kinda bummed. Anyway, it seems like you know more about that writing program (the kinder and pre-school) than the OT does. It also kinda stinks that you had to remind them about the weighted item. But Kayla sounds happy and that makes me happy. Give them hugs for me!
love you!

Anonymous said...

My son was quite the "fidgeter" in his early years. One thing we found helped was a "bumpy seat", can't remember the correct name. It basically was a textured plastic disc that he sat on during class and homework time. He had minor sensory issues and this helped.
Debbie E.

Sabrina said...

Great job on the IEP meeting. I'm not sure what kind of timer you have but the one i use in my classroom is very large and when you set it as you pull the timer to 5 minutes it turns red. as the time winds down the red part gets smaller. this is great for my special needs kids because it is very visual for them. they know when the red is gone their time is up. if you want the link to it let me know.

Amy said...

Sounds like Kayla likes school and that some positive modifications will be made. I am going to order Handwriting without Tears!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your really on top of things and everything sounds great that you have in place. I have had some success with students with the rubber pillow with bumps on it. Just a thought. I also know other students who had success with the weighted pillow too! Good luck and thanks for sharing all this info!

Mary said...

I would be totally frustrated too, especially about the coloring suggestion. Come on!

I love that you share your experiences with us. I feel I will be better prepared when it is my turn!

chelle said...

Good that you guys are so involved and staying on top of all the issues!! Stay on top of them and never let them slip or get lazy!

Laura said...

We homeschool and All my kiddos start out with Handwriting w/o Tears, I love it. I think she would to. Some of mine even ask to do it first.

I'm looking into buying some of the Signing Time DVD, just didn't know where to start. Jonathan can do basic sign(eat,drink,thank you, more,no,etc) but needs more. He seems to lose interest when we take it on as a lesson/work. He loves TV...way to much so I know he will love it and as a bonus learn more signs. I also think it will help my other kids to be able to communicate with him on a much deeper level for full understanding. So any suggestions will help...THANKS!