Friday was Tommy’s Fall Open House at his school. They began the day with a meeting for parents to discuss how it works to transition children from their current school (a private school for blind children that is paid for by the state) to another schooling option.
Last year they brought in parents of children who have transitioned to talk with current parents. This year they just had a very open-ended discussion about transitioning; there was a lot of talk about concerns, fears, and options. I am nervous about it, but I do feel a little better after this meeting. Tom’s school will allow teacher’s and team members to visit other schools with parents. They can help write the IEP for the next setting or they can advise. No matter what, it sounds like his current team plans to be involved in the transition in a real way to make it easier for everyone.
I do want Tommy to transition to his home district but I think doing a year of kindergarten at his current school and then repeating kindergarten at his next school is a good option. Kids form relationships that first year and I want Tom to be starting fresh with the group of kids he will be with for years. It’s hard being the new kid and I don’t want to make things harder for him socially. We have a little time because Tommy won’t be kindergarten age until next year because he just missed the cut off. I like that they begin the planning process early! I like to be prepared. I already called my district and introduced myself to their special education team when we move into a new district last school year. I think it’s good to be on their radar because Tommy will be on their roster soon enough.
After the transition meeting we got to visit Tommy in his classroom. We saw him do some of his seat work which involves working on tactile discrimination and braille letters. He uses small tubs of miniature items that all begin with the same letter. His begins by choosing a letter tub to work with and feeling the braille letters on the top of the tub. Then he is asked to identify the objects in the tub. It’s all about making those fingers of his very “smart” and training them to identify small differences.
A very important part of what the children learn are skills that will help them succeed in a mainstream classroom.
- Raising their hand
- Answering and asking questions when called upon
- Turning to the person who is speaking to them
- Being polite
- Safety – not running, no hitting
- Personal space – Tom likes to touch people’s mouth which is not acceptable.
Tom is also learning how to help himself. There is a student that likes to get very close to Tommy which upsets him. Instead of just running over to diffuse the situation they are teaching Tommy to ask someone to “move please” so he can handle this himself. I love that they are getting Tommy ready to handle a real classroom. Going from a highly staff classroom of 6 kids to a classroom of 25 will be very different. He does have classes like gym, recess, and music that are blended with the daycare from his school. That is very helpful as well.
All in all, a good visit and a great day for our family! We ended the day with another adventure. We all went out to eat together at a restaurant. That might not sound significant to you, but it is to us. Tommy is eating only by mouth now which makes this possible. He ate a grilled cheese sandwich (on fancy bread even) at a real restaurant! He still feels a little trapped by being in a booth but it went better than expected. Like most things, it will get better with practice. Soon he will be begging us to go out to eat!