Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Transitions . . .

The day mother's of special needs kids dread. . . back to school after a break. A change in routine for most kids can be difficult. Going back to a normal sleep schedule, a normal play schedule and just making sure you get to the bus stop on time can be difficult on the first day back to school after Christmas Break. For kids that have special needs, a transition back to a "normal" routine can be quite traumatic. Kari dreaded the day, Cindy had issues getting her kid's heads off the pillows, Jo's son had issues in the after-school program, and even Marla and Maizie struggled with returning to their homeschooling routine. Yes, even I stressed out as my kid's returned to their normal grind.

It is on days like this when I have to remind myself that I cannot control my kid's behavior. I have to give them the foundation of a happy morning, a full belly and a loving hug as they run out the door, but ultimately it is their responsibility to act appropriately. But what about the kids whose brains have been affected by pre-natal alcohol exposure, or who have autism spectrum disorder, or who are just plain on their own schedule. They usually need someone, an external brain, to control their behaviors. That is not something one commonly finds in a "general education" classroom, or even a special education placement. My family is lucky enough to have Dustin with a 1:1 aide that is basically his external brain while at school, but that is not always the case. And even that can fall short when it comes to a child pushed beyond his or her limit for the day or their ability handle their impulses.

I have to ask myself what kind of pressure are we putting on our children to perform at a particular level that stresses them out so much. When I orientate a new employee into the child care world, I stress meeting each and every child at their level. We have a long talk about how each child had different abilities and temperaments and needs. We are expected to meet each child on their need as much as is possible. It can be as simple as helping children prepare for the next transition. We talk about those kids who need a 5 minute warning before clean up time. My youngest son will freak out if you all of the sudden say, "okay, time to clean up". He needs fair warning that his play is about to end. He needs time to "wrap-up" his play and be done. He needs to be prepared. Other children couldn't care less, you have to KNOW your students.

This cannot always happen in the "real world" of public schools. The classes are bursting at the seams with children. The day is so packed with the scope and sequence of what the Department of Education says must be accomplished in that school year, that there is little time for much else. In most classrooms, children are not given the opportunity to explore a topic and learn at their own pace. This is not always the fault of the teacher. People like Marla and Angie and Cindy are angels for homeschooling their kids. Years ago, I had images of home schooled families as outsiders, families whose children were not socialized and maladjusted to living in the real world. I have found there are so many families doing the right thing by their children. I envy that. I don't think I would be capable of that. I have a degree in elementary Education, but have chosen not to teach in the "real" school system because I became disheartened by the constraints placed upon teachers.

All in all, my kids had a great day yesterday. I worried for nothing. We shall see what today brings . . .

1 comment:

Angie said...

What a great post! That first day back after Christmas break is always rough (or can be). It's so differnt from the first day of school when everyone is excited and just getting to know one another. Glad the day went well.