Monday, September 22, 2008

My Visit to School

Theo's school had a Meet The Teacher day today. I had met Ms. C a couple of times, but briefly. Melody and I visited during Theo's lunch time, so it was just Ms. C and three other parents in the room. His class currently has just 6 kids! It was supposed to be 12. Leave it to the Board of Ed. to shortchange 6 kids who can really use a small class, but hey, their loss is Theo's gain. With a teacher and a para (assistant teacher), not to mention his therapists, he gets more attention than I'd ever have dreamed!

Ms. C is a lovely young woman with years of experience with special needs children. But she is teaching a regular Kindergarten curriculum and doesn't treat the kids any differently (meaning, she expects the same hard work), which I love. She's extremely patient and claims she doesn't get mad easily.

Theo is already ahead of the game, knowing his letters and numbers. Every day they do math, reading and writing, and he has all those things for homework every night. He has art and gym 3 times a week, and while unfortunately he doesn't have music class as I thought he would, they do plenty of singing in his class. He also has computer time and of course, a chance to play with blocks and play-doh and other fun things. They also have a station where they can listen to stories on headphones.

It was a thrill to meet the other parents and really get to talk and exchange email addresses. For some reason, that never happened in pre-school. This time around I plan to get involved with them. We all appreciated talking to a mom who'd been through all the tests and emotions that no one else can possibly relate to.

For example, I asked Ms. C for advice on how to get Theo to hold his pencil correctly, and the other moms all chimed in begging to know too! I was ecstatic to see I wasn't alone! (She had a great tip, they use their pointer and thumb to "pinch" and draw dots to serve as guides for where to put the fingers.)

These kids are going to have to take the same standardized tests as all the other kids when in upper grades, so the more he can absorb now in his little sponge stage, the better. I like Ms. C's system for learning to read and write. He's picked up writing very well so far.

My favorite thing that they do is have a few minutes every day where the kids are supposed to talk to each other. This is really important for these kids where social skills are an issue. Theo is getting to be a chatterbox at home, but he is still shy and quiet at school, especially with other kids. Partners are integrated into most of the activities throughout the day. Partners even read books together. Person A reads a page, then Person B, and so on. We're supposed to practice this at home, too.

The kids have jobs that rotate. Theo is door monitor this week. Which explains why he's been shutting our bedroom door every chance he gets and driving us nuts. The kids get fake dollars every time they follow a rule or do an extra good job on something. If they get 10 dollars they get a gold coin and a sticker. They lose dollars for breaking rules. It's a motivator that really works, she says.

They have a bunch of classic books that they are reading. Aunt Pia, Caps For Sale is one of them!! They are also writing a book of their own, together, as a class. The story is on giant paper! The kids are the characters and the drawings are of them, and at the end, when it's finished, they'll color it and "publish" it. The kids will take turns reading it to the class.

At the end of the conference, the kids returned from lunch with Ms. Rosa, the para. Theo teared up when I left. He didn't break down...he was just silently sad. My sweet, sensitive baby. He's doing just great. I'm so proud.

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