Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wemberly Worried and the First Day of School

My youngest loves Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes so much he has chosen it three nights in a row for our bedtime story routine. It's a cute book about a little mouse who worries about everything, especially her very first day of school. The main idea of the story is that Wemberly didn't have to worry because everything turned out just fine. In fact she even made a friend. It is a comforting message for kids and yes, it's a comforting message for adults as well.

Julie Worried

I should have remembered this book when getting ready to send my kids off to school the last week of March. (For those of you new to this blog, we just moved from Michigan to Washington.) Anyway, I worried and worried and WORRIED. I didn't worry so much about my seven year old who is a well behaved student, is social and makes friends relatively easily. I worried about my oldest son who has autism and some learning difficulties. In fact, I worried endlessly.

Moving with a child who has special needs and getting him settled into yet another school (see here for an explanation), was on the top of the list of things to worry about in terms of our big move. Yes, he had changed schools many times before but it was always in the same district. This time I had no idea what we would encounter in terms of education.

Would the nearby school be a good fit? Could they accommodate him even though they didn't have a special education program at that particular school? Would we feel welcomed at the school or not so much? Would the team listen to what I had to say? Would I have the chance to say it? And most importantly: Would C1 would behave in an appropriate manner?

The main source of my worry is that C1 had behavior problems at his old school. Though he's not a child who likes school all that much, I think he acted out because he didn't like being in a self contained special education room. He wanted to be with the students in regular education. Before we moved, the team at the old school agreed that we should try it. It was working, but I was holding my breath hoping the new team would be open to it.

I will admit that my worry about the new school not having a special education classroom was quite needless considering my son doesn't like to be in one. I guess I wanted a safety net,. I also didn't have to worry about being welcomed and having my suggestions turned down by the school team. I talked to the school team for a total of four hours (two hours at a time) and my information was well received, including my thoughts about C1 wanting to be included in regular education.

To my relief, C1 was placed in a regular education fourth grade classroom as well as in a resource room where he gets extra math and reading help. I knew about his placement and that we felt welcome by the staff and administration before his first day, but still I worried.

I was all prepared to walk to school with my two boys on the first day to get them settled in. Instead, a neighbor boy whom the boys had met days earlier showed up to walk them to school. I was a bit skeptical of the whole arrangement, so I asked him some key questions. "Can you show them the ropes? It's their first day."

"Yes, I'm going to get a pass to take C2 to class and my friend will get a pass to take C2 to class," the third grader replied. This kid has it together I thought. I also was pleased because this was the first time both boys had a friend that would walk with them to school. My boys were pleased too and were more than happy to go without me.

The great start to the day did make me worry less, though I still wondered about the first day of school. How would C1's first day go? Well, a note from his teacher made my day. This is what it said:

"[C1] had a great first day at [school]. He did an awesome job following directions and having a positive attitude. Way to go [C1]!."

So the main idea of my story is that like Wemberly, I shouldn't have worried because everything turned out just fine. C1's regular education teacher, his resource room teacher, the playground supervisor and even the physical education teacher have all told me over a span of the last few weeks that he has done well.

C1 even told me last night that he likes his new school (though I will admit worrying because there is always a grace period with C1 whenever he attends a new one). As for me, I won't let my guard down completely, but maybe (just maybe) I'll start worrying a little bit less. Well I will try to anyway.


Casdok said...

Soo pleased to hear all is going well, hope it continues.
I can understand your worry - us mums are good at that!

Julie L. said...

I hope so too. Yep, we are good at worrying...

Julie L. said...

I hope so too. Yep, we are good at worrying...

Krystal said...

I am so glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading previous posts. I don't have a child with autism, but am interested in working with children who do. thank you for taking the time to do this!

Accidental Expert said...

Changing schools is a HUGE deal for kids on the spectrum. Glad to hear that things are going well. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie-I am a special ed teacher. Your perspective was written so thoughtfully...thank you for sharing it.