Thursday, November 3, 2011

School News

Today Chris and I are feeling really good about the school decisions we made for both Julia and Emma.  As a parent it is hard to know if we are making the right choices and it's wonderful to have a day when you can sit back, take a deep breath, and know that for now we are exactly where we are meant to be.

The future is so bright, she has to wear shades!
Chris and I had our first parent teacher conferences for Julia, making it our first parent teacher conference ever (because there is no way that I'm counting the endless hours in IEP meetings for Emma as a parent teacher conference)!  I'm happy to say that they seem to love her almost as much as we do!   They see the same sweet, genuine, caring, brightness that we see in Julia and are thrilled to have her in their class.  Julia has been in kindergarten 37 days to date.  Her teachers showed us her journal with her writing from day 1 to now and it is striking how mature it is getting after only 37 days.  There is punctuation, capitalization, spaces between words now where it didn't exist on day one.  She is on track for many of her pre-literacy and math skills, participates readily in all the class activities, and has many friends.  They described how Julia plays with others, the activities she enjoys (dramatic play tops the list), and the unique qualities she brings to her class.  It was wonderful to hear more about her school life from people who have been brought into Julia's world only recently.  As I said to her teachers, Julia was born with a great heart and compassion and we can't take the credit for that but we are truly honored to get to raise her as our daughter.

Since it was parent teacher conferences, Julia had the day off from school and joined me to drop Emma off at school.  It was her first time seeing Emma's school and she was so happy about it!  Miss Anna (Emma's teacher), Miss Marie (Emma's aide), and many of Emma's therapists put out a warm welcome to Julia.  Emma was smiling from ear to ear, too, while Julia toured her classroom, saw the equipment she uses, met her teachers and therapists and friends, and walked the school halls.  Julia often wonders about Emma's time away from her and always has a lot of questions about Emma's school.  It was so nice to be able to show her what Emma's day is like so she could put faces and places to my descriptions of Emma's daily routine.

As is typical, Emma rode the school bus home and Julia liked seeing Emma's bus and meeting her bus driver and driver's aide.  My parents were here, too, since I was at Julia's school for the conference.  Emma was delighted to see everyone waiting for her arrival!  This child loves people and having her grandparents and sister greet her at the bus likely put the biggest smile on her face.

When I got home I looked in her communication book so I could ask her about her day and saw this note from her speech language therapist:

  • "Emma did a great job using the DynaVox (AAC device) in the classroom to make song choices.  I have hand puppets for some of the songs that she likes to sing.  We sang 5 Green & Speckled Frogs on Tuesday with hand puppets (which she loved!).  She went right to that choice and used her hand switch to select it.  I looked in my bag and realized I forgot the frog hand puppets (oops!).  Then I told Emma "I don't have the frogs today, but I do have Twinkle, Twinkle and Old McDonald."  Before I could look up to help her make the choice, Emma used the DynaVox to say Twinkle, Twinkle!!! She is doing so well :-)"
Our big girl is going places (with her communication!).

Wow!  I have tears in my eyes writing this now.  This is only the 2nd time Emma has used the DynaVox ever and the first time in the classroom with all the kids in the room.  And Emma wanted to communicate!  She wanted to play the games.  She wanted to use the DynaVox to tell her SLP what song to sing.  And, the 5 Green & Speckled Frogs is the 6th choice out of 6.  Emma had to use the head switch 6 times to get to that choice and then use her hand to select it.  The DynaVox she uses is with switches, not eye gaze yet.  The fact that she has figured out how to use this system after only ever seeing it for 2 times give me so much hope for her expressive communication options.  Chris and I are 100% sure we made the right choice in moving - it's amazing how a different approach to communication can open our child's world.  

Tonight we will rest a bit easier knowing we are exactly where we are meant to be and that is not something we take for granted.

1 Comments from readers:

Kara Melissa said...

What a fantastic post! Great reading about both your girls' experiences and that you are so happy with them. Loving reading about Emma's communication since it's a big focus for us with Sebastian right now. Does Emma go to school full day? Or just in the mornings?