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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kindergarten Update

So now that Kayla's been in school for a few weeks I thought I'd give a little update to how it's been going.

For the first week of school parents dropped off and picked up their kids in the classroom (after that it was outside) so I was able to observe a few things that week.

A couple of the mornings one girl came up to Kayla and told her they could color/draw now (free time before the bell rings) and she proceeded to get Kayla's box out of her desk before Kayla even had a chance.

Her teacher told me that this girl had attached herself to Kayla and they were already becoming "like this" (fingers together) - after only a few days! She said they were always together and she was going to have to separate them because all they wanted to do was talk and play LOL Then I found out the girl's name. She just so happens to be the daughter of this mom (she wasn't the one who had that conversation - it was an older girl). What are the odds!?

A couple days during pick-up another girl came over and slipped Kayla's backpack off her chair and handed it to me. Hmmm...

After that first week the kids are dropped off at the playground. There are 3 Kindergarten classes and they each have a spot where they put their backpacks down so they can play until the bell rings. The first day we did this Kayla dropped her backpack down in the middle of the sidewalk and not where her class pile was. Immediately, before I could even say anything to Kayla, that same girl appeared and picked up Kayla's backpack and was going to bring it over to the pile. I grabbed on to one of the straps and told her, "oh thank you for helping, but Kayla can bring her backpack over there." She didn't want to let go! I was almost having a tug of war with this 5-year old! LOL Ok it wasn't that bad, but she really didn't let go after the first time and I kept repeating that Kayla could bring her backpack to the pile, but could she show Kayla where it went. She finally relented and let Kayla have her backpack :)

So my first thoughts were how sweet these 2 girls were wanting to help out Kayla so much. And it was sweet; I was touched that they seemed so willing to help. But my second thought was she doesn't need that much help! I don't want her to be "babied", I don't want the kids doing things for her that she can do herself, because Kayla will let them!

At the end of the first week I stayed after school to talk to her teacher and see how things were going. I wanted to find out if she thought Kayla would be able to be in the classroom more and less time for pull-outs to the special ed room.

I was a little disheartened to hear the teacher say she didn't think Kayla could handle being in the classroom for the full day. She proceeded to tell me how easily distracted Kayla is, that she can't stay seated, that she can't sit still at her desk and work independently, that she's constantly getting up and walking around, they have to keep calling her back "Kayla come sit down", that even during circle time it's just too many kids (23) and she gets antsy and fidgety and starts touching the kids around her.

Now her teacher wasn't being mean when she said all that. All of those things are true. I know that Kayla can't sit still and has trouble concentrating/staying on task for more than a few minutes at a time. We struggle with just keeping her at the table for dinner! I was hoping being in that environment maybe she would follow what the other kids were doing, but I guess it's still to overwhelming for her to some degree.

So maybe being pulled out to the spec ed room is what she needs right now. Maybe she needs that more quiet environment and more 1-on-1 time to focus and learn. I have to fight my need for wanting her fully included to doing what is best for her at this time. I would love for her to be in that classroom with all the other kids all day long, but if she can't sit and concentrate how is that going to be beneficial? How will she learn?

I'm sure it must be a little frustrating for the teacher and the assistant to constantly have to keep Kayla on task, and it takes away from the other kids. I don't want my child to be the distraction in the classroom. Her teacher was quick to tell me that she already fell in love with Kayla though and told her husband she wants to take her home :) She told me the kids all like her, and there are a group of girls that seem to have gravitated towards her. I was happy to hear it wasn't all negative LOL

2 weeks ago when I picked her up her teacher told me she got a "medal" for good behaviour from her special ed teacher. When she came back to the regular classroom one of the boys noticed the medal and said "yay Kayla!" and started clapping...and then the whole class started clapping for her. Can I tell you how much that warmed my heart to hear?

Tomorrow we are having a meeting to update her IEP. I was told there are "some concerns to the level of support she needs" and this means she might get a 1-on-1 aide. I asked for a 1:1 when we did her IEP back in May and was told "let's wait and see how she does." Hopefully having one person dedicated to Kayla will enable her to spend more time in the reg. classroom because that person can focus on Kayla and let the assistant help the teacher with the rest of the classroom. We'll see!

It may only be Kindergarten, but at least I know the kids have accepted her (even when she does things like color on their paper, or touch their noses during circle time), they like her, they include her on the playground, and she's happy to go to school.

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51 comments:

Nisa said...

Aww, Meesh! That's great. That's so adorable that all the kids clapped when they saw her medal. That warmed my heart too! I'm so glad she's enjoying school. Maybe the 1:1 will help her with staying focused and on task. love you!

Mom24 said...

That's awesome about the medal, even better about the clapping. It's wonderful the kids are embracing her. I'm sorry that your heart is hurting a little bit. If it helps, so many of us have our hearts ache when our little ones are at school and things don't go like we would like them too. It's very hard.

I hope the IEP meeting is positive and helpful. When will you be moving? It must be a little hard to know you're going to be moving soon and starting the process over somewhere else. I hope she feels positive about school. It's wonderful to know her teacher likes her, that's more than half the battle.

Amy said...

Aww. That is so good. I'm glad that things are going well. And it's great that the other kids are embracing her as they are.

Jill said...

As always, it warms my heart to hear how the kids are so accepting of Kayla, and how she's able to spend a majority of her day in the mainstream classroom.

Good luck with your IEP meeting - it was the best thing that happened to my girlfriend's daughter... it solidified the 1:1 aide and her ability to stay in the class most of the day.

Amy said...

That's great! Sounds like Kayla is adjusting well. As you know we are doing the opposite. Joe is in the spec. ed. classroom with plug-ins in the mainstream kindergarten. Today was the first day and I feel better already. I have the same concerns about feeling like I must mainstream Joe, but in his case the spec. ed classroom is the best learning environment for him right now.

annie said...

Izzy has a one on one para this year. It makes things go so smoothly... She takes her to Kindergarten and therapy. It's amazing how the kids all love to help.

Amy said...

Hehehe, Kayla has got some helpers, does she? It is very sweet, but I understand Kayla should do things for herself. Avery has a 1/1 aide for presechool, i.e. someone is working with her FT in the classroom to keep her on task. It isn't always the same person, but either her PT, OT, ST, the teacher, an aide or a resource teacher. That way, theoretically, she doesn't start relying on just one person to do things for her. And I ask them to stress just getting her to stay on task with the other children with the hope that she will eventually get it through rote and routine. I hope she can stay in the classsroom with an aide!
xoxo
amy

chelle said...

I have goosebumps. It is every mothers fear that their children will not be accepted as they are in school. It is so heart warming to read that Kayla's classmates are wonderful. Totally rooting for 1-1!!!

Killlashandra said...

That's so great! It sounds like her kindergarten experience is more positive than hoped for. That's great the girls gravitate toward her, it's all those smiles she shares with everyone. :)

I too hope the 1:1 helps with focusing. It's nice to hear about the good attitudes the other kids have.

Nancy M. said...

I'm glad she's having a good time. At that age a lot of children have a hard time staying on task. It's great she got a medal. She's gorgeous, who wouldn't love her?

Anonymous said...

It is always "one day at a time" :) It warms my heart to know that everyone is accepting of Kayla, especially the kids in her class...and the teacher wants to take her home!! It is staying objective in these situations with school, inclusion, spec.ed. 1 to 1... I think, the one to one is ideal for kayla. :) Kayla is learning every day and every day she learns rules about the classroom and etc. I am happy to hear that Kayla likes going to school and already the teacher thinks she has to separate Kayla and the other little girl... :) Love to you all and especially, "little Kayla" :) love mom/grandma

Cuddle Cottage said...

Glad to hear your little kindergartener is settling in, even with a few little hiccups. I loved the part about her medal, children are so honest, you know the little ones were applauding with respect! How ironic that her new friend is the daughter of the mom at the softball field. Perhaps you will get your chance to advocate and educate after all . . .

Every minute counts.... said...

I am glad that things seem to be going well. I think there are always going to be changes that have to be made. I am alot like you. I don't want people to baby Abi too much because she will let them everytime. I really do hope they give Kayla a 1-1 aide, maybe that will get you both what you want.
I can't believe there are only 3 Kindergarten classes, Abi would be in a building with 10 Kindergarten classes! Part of the reason I am so afraid of it!
Thinking of you,
Noel

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

Sounds like she is doing great and has made friends. The 1:1 maybe would help her be less distracted and get her to stay on task.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

This just brought tears to my eyes, knowing we'll be there next year.

I have to say though, all the things you described Kayla doing... Kameron did the EXACT same stuff at the beginning of Kindergarten... and I can't imagine Kayla is the only one in her class who figets during circle time, gets up and walks around in class. I just hope they won't dismiss her too easily. The year just started and it's Kindergarten, not 3rd or 4th grade. Even though this teacher is being kind, I hope she'll give Kayla the same chance she'd give every other child. Good luck with the IEP meeting!! WTG Kayla! I'm proud of you! :)

Mary said...

To this day, I can't think that far ahead. Reading your story makes me so nervous thinking about Leah being in this situation in just a few short years. My anxiety takes over and I'm a mess. 19 months have passed since Leah was born and I'm still living day to day.

Finding Normal said...

YAY Kayla! I agree with Renee, that description pretty much describes the ENTIRE K class at the beginning of the year, I think! They're all generally clueless, and I have no doubt Kayla will start to pick up on the cues and follow directions more easily.
Don't be afraid to push for the 1:1, if that's what you think she needs. My district (aka my employer!) seems to think 1:1 aides aren't a necessity unless there is either a squeaky parent or a squeaky teacher. I'm already dreading having to figure out K for Addison, and she's not even 2 yet!

Tracey said...

Michelle, it sounds like she's doing really well! And you have to love kindergarten: they're so sweet towards each other!

Remember that a LOT of kindergarteners can't sit still with 23 other kids in a circle. It goes against their nature! It may just take her a while to get used to it. I hope she can get the 1:1 from a new IEP. And that she continues to do well in school!

Sandra said...

It sounds like Kayla is doing great Michelle and it's so sweet that the kids have embraced her :)

Jennifer said...

Sounds like Kayla is a social butterfly! I'm glad that the classmates have taken up with her so well. I think 1:1 is a great idea and I hope that you are able to make that happen for her. It sounds like the school is willing to do whatever they need to get her the best education possible...that's great! Hope that it continues to go well....ps...sorry it took me so long to return your email.

datri said...

Sounds like a wonderful start to Kindy! It really sounds like a 1:1 would help her be able to stay in the classroom more. And keep those "helping kids" at bay, LOL. My Kayla can't funtion in even her PreK class without a 1:1.

Sue said...

That's really sweet that she's so well liked. I'll tell you, kids that age just don't notice the difference the same way older kids or adults do. It's really a learned behavior.

You know, I have a beef with the whole teacher saying she can't sit still bit. Five year olds aren't SUPPOSED to sit still. They're active kid and learn actively. Some kids can more than others, but that is one thing I dislike about the traditional school environment. They expect these small kids to sit still like that and focus all day- something adults can have a hard time doing. Then, in Kayla's case they're blaming her DS. I'm sure the one-on-one aid will help her tremendously, but try not to be discouraged and rememer she's 5. The fact that she's in Kindergarten shows what an extraordinary little girls you have. You and Joe have taken the time to prepare her so she's able to be with the kids her age and she's acccepted.

I hope she continues to enjoy it.

starrlife said...

I agree with specialK's mommy- My daughter is now in Second grade with a 1-1 at a distance. We have the same issues with other kids helping her a bit too much and need to educate re: her abilities, she had similar issues with the circle time and attending to aural presentation- the para would take her discreetly out during difficult activities and do one on one things-. It is only Kindergarten- we had our daughter repeat it to give her an edge and it was a great decision! K is just a training/prep for the real stuff- practicing attending etc. Lots of typical kids need to work on those issues too! Also, we took advantage of the structure and reviewed it with her making a great deal of difference since my child loves schedules and routines get internalized and after a few months she was settled right in! I think Kayla is doing great!
I do notice that every year for the first couple of weeks she is unsettled but then adjusts! Keep up the good work!

Sabrina said...

She is doing a great job! It is very sweet that the kids have included her so well. I teach kindergarten so believe me I know about "typical" 5 year olds. They can't sit still or keep their hands off each other. She is doing typical things. She will get into the routine given some time and extra assistance. Kindergarten should be a time when all kids can be included for the whole day. Especially if the teacher has a full time aide. I had 18 kids in my class last year with no help at all! It is very important for activities to be alternated with table work and active time. Check out the Universal Design for Learning website at cast.org. This is an up and coming mandatory part of the Special Ed and Regular Ed. program. Good luck with your IEP meeting. Abbi has her first transition meeting in Oct. I am very nervous and I am a teacher!

Jenn said...

That's great, I loved how they clapped for her getting the award. I think it's great there are so many in her class that are nice to her and want to be friends.
All 3 of my kids started school with one or two special needs kids in their class rooms,my middle daughter had a little fella in a wheel chair in hers and she would always hold the door for him and hang up his hat because he couldn't reach and things and some of the other kids would pick on her for always helping the little fella instead of running with them, I felt bad for her but proud too that she wanted to help and didn't care what they said to her.
She even got an award on the last day of school for being his best buddy and such a good little helper !
She's going in grade 8 this year and even though they aren't in the same classes anymore she still will talk to him in the halls as they walk along !

Stephanie said...

Sounds like Kayla is just one of the gang! So glad to hear such GREAT classroom experiences...if you think she should be in the classroom more, than go for it! Kayla isn't the one who needs the help it is the teacher and I hope they adapt in a way that benefits Kayla! It is all about her!
Good luck and keep the Kindy stories coming! It gives me something to look forward to.

kyouell said...

Our dinner is ready so I don't have time to read the other comments yet, but wanted to let you know how much this post warmed my heart. Our Biscuit starts preschool tomorrow, and let's just say I'm quite a bit beyond freaked out! Reading this has mellowed me a bit. Maybe just maybe everything will be okay tomorrow. It's only preschool so it's only 2 hours, right? He can be with someone other than me for 2 hours of his life, right?

Sigh.

Karen said...

That's wonderful that she's doing so well, and I love that she has her own following already! It's always such a relief to know that they've been accepted by their peers.

Hopefully an aide will be exactly what she needs and she'll be able to be in regular class more.

Jeanette said...

I just love reading your posts on Kayla's adventures. I feel like you are a trailblazer for me. I don't even know what IEP is at this stage. Ugh, I have a lot to learn. Syd is so little, but I know that we will be there before I know it. I can't believe that Anthony goes to Kindergarten next year. I can't imagine him sitting still for long.

I am so proud of Kayla. She seems like such a social butterfly.

Chrystal said...

It sounds as if Kayla is getting along just fine. Your stories about her make me smile.

much more than a mom said...

Oh how incredibly sweet!

GO KAYLA GO!

Kacey Bode said...

I seriously have goosebumps reading that post. I can just picture all the kids clapping and cheering for Kayla, so sweet. That is good that the girls have gravitated towards Kayla, of course they have!!!!

mommaof4wife2r said...

ur a good momma! and as a momma of 2 kids with IEPs, ur doing a great job. and that sweet little gal getting anaward! yeah! celebration! my #2 didn't start K this year b/c of a numbe rof things, but the most significant is her ADHD (although medicated) and her big need for one on one attention for OT and ST still. she is doing ok, but i still worry...i'm a mom. that's what we do, right?


i'm gonna pray for Kayla's IEP and for you all...I'm so glad she has made great little friends, in spite of their need to help all the time. :)

Michelle said...

I sure wish we all were like kids at that age. It sounds like Kayla is doing wonderful. It's so great that she enjoys going to school. Maybe after a while she'll be able to spend more time in the classroom. Hopefully she'll get the one on one like you were wanting. Good luck!

Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

So are saying that Kayla has the gift of gab??? lol I am so glad she is making friends.

Also, I think they reset the voting for the SEW model contest after you voted. You might want to see if it allows you to vote. If it does, then you voted before they reset it.

And maybe I missed it, but did you guys ever decide what you are gonna do when Joe gets deployed?

Tammy said...

Michelle, this is wonderful news about the kids accepting and loving her so much...it just warmed my heart to read it all!
It does sound like having some time in special ed is the right thing for her now...maybe that time away from the large group will help her to focus better but yet she will have the best of both worlds by still getting classroom time. It just sounds like she is blessed with a really nice teacher and group of kids and that is wonderful.
Hugs,
~Tammy

Corey~living and loving said...

awwww...I wish I had more time to comment...but all I really have time to say is, "awwwwww....I'm all teary!" Your girl is very loved....and she will succeed. They just need the time to figure out the best way to support her. :)

Terri said...

I am a relatively new reader with a 14 year old child and I think there are a few cues in your post that could help you progress toward more inclusion...

First, your instinct about kids over-supporting is on the mark and they can model "HOW" to be supportive for the kids--if they get good reinforcement for helping her the right way that will bring tears of joy to your eyes for years. If they build a tradition of over-support, not so much joy as time goes on....

I think 1:1s can be very helpful,the other kids often do get much less involved once there is a 1:1 though so being intentional about how that is done is really important.

The other red flag--well not red, but pinkish flag is that this year they say she can't handle the larger setting so they give her small. NEXT year they say "she learns SO WELL in the small setting that we should keep her here." That is because that's how she has been taught to learn.

The thing is that she needs to be taught how to be in and learn in larger groups--by being in them with supports. Help them build a progression plan--this week in the really small setting, next week either by adding kids into the smaller group or by bringing her into the larger for certain things more and more often. And have the plan be specific about progress.

Also, they can put supports in the larger settings to make her more successful--her own copy of the calendar to hold on her lap and follow along (also works with books and they often find many of the other kids benefit from this as well), setting her up ahead of the group time with something that she is specifically listening for and has a planned response for in each larger session, a picture schedule she can hold for the large group meeting so she can know we will talk about the weather first, then have a story, then talk about colors (this makes the structure more clear to kids that don't see it right off--and most churches provide order of worship for adults for the same reason!!)

I am sorry if this is really nervy of me. It does sound like you are off to a great start and I know what you mean about wanting what is best for her... and I thought before your meeting you might want to think about building for what might be best for her next... Best of luck!

Karen said...

It all sounds pretty normal to me Michelle. My son was like this at 5, and even wandered off in the carpark once or twice. By 6 he was just fine. Even my Miss 5 has times of being distracted and distracting the others in Class. I have decided not to worry so much as I am apt to do, having seen one child come through it - I think she is doing great. Do not be discouraged.

Chatty Kelly said...

So glad she is having a great time. Kindergarten is a big deal, for moms too! So hard to let them go. I hope she'll continue to get all the aid she needs (& aide!).

How could they not want to take her home? Those eyes! Oh my.

StacyRenee said...

You have beautiful children. My son has Downs and is now in the 7th grade (13) I've laughed and cried with him alot over the years. He's now at the stage where he doesn't need me as much and I get the *MOM* response most of the time (sob). :)

Joy said...

How wonderful that the kids are great with her and her teacher loves her. Sounds like you have a great school for her. It warms my heart to hear that! I hope the year progresses well for you both and thanks for sharing this with us. I know I worry about how my kids interact with other kids since they are not in a school setting. But they get plenty of time with other kids at gymnastics, the neighborhood, church and the park and so far the church setting has been the hardest one with the most obvious rejection by the other kids - isn't that strange...

Nancy said...

It is good to hear things are going well in Kindergarten. It is always so good to see other children assist those in need.
Blessings,
Nancy

mom2noah said...

It great to hear Kayla loves school and her classmates are eager to help. It sounds like Kayla has boundless energy and laugh to share with her new friends. I hope your are able to adjust her IEP to help Kayla adjust to her new enviroment. Look forward to hearing more fun stories about her school days. Give both Lucas and Kayla hugs and kisses from Noah.

Julie said...

That is so sweet how the other kids have fallen in love with her. I feel the same way as you. On one hand I want Noah to be able to be mainstreamed but on the other hand I want what is best for him. It is heartbreaking to make that decision though.

Kerry said...

How cool! She is doing great! Whata proud momma you must be.

I think it was wise to have Kayla do her own backpack, etc. She'll need to do that~

Chris said...

It sounds like she is off to a great start.

My goodness, what I wouldn't have given for my oldest to be happy to go to school a couple of weeks into Kindergarten!

It sounds like you have a good relationship with her teacher. Open communication is so important, and you are doing such a great job making sure you are doing what is best for Kayla.

So happy the kids are including and supporting her.

It's all good!

Michelle said...

Oh... do I hear ya! They have tried to use a student helper with Matthew, but have had to change it up several times, for the other student tends to start "mothering" him and helping out too much. Matthew has been really squirelly, but there are changes that have been going on that he just isn't responding to super well. His teacher does realize that he needed adjustment time and hasn't worried about it - thankfully. We also considered the full day being too long thing, but are now in week 4 and things do seem better. His new 1-1 aide should be starting tomorrow - yay! We have the same thing - she is there for Matthew, but we want him to be as independent as possible. For her to only step in when needed.
Let us know how the EIP went! :)

Anonymous said...

That is so wonderful Kayla got a medal! I think it is so sweet how the kids clapped for her. I'm so glad Kayla has made a lot of friends. It's nice to hear that she is enjoying school and that everyone has seems to love her too!Kayla is a sweet girl how could they not!
Godd luck at the IEP meeting!
love ya,
mimi

Anonymous said...

awe! that's so cute.
....haha...i hope she didn't pick up that nose thing from me. cause i always poke her nose. oops. ^_^
love ya! can't wait for ya'll to move out here ^_^
and ya'll can come meet my other sisters!!!!!! they'll love kayla. ^_^
<3 Kel

Denise said...

Here in Indiana we still have 1/2day Kindergarten, which Sydney has been in for 3weeks now. Where does time go??? We do have a 1:1 aide and it has been awesome, but where did my baby go???
Denise
www.caringbridge.org/in/sydneylynne