A big transition is happening in the Newingham house today; Nasko is returning to public school! Recent behavioral issues have caused us to stop and reevaluate every area of Nasko's life. I believe that homeschooling him for the past year and a half has been THE BEST thing for him. He knows 20+ capital letters, he cuts and glues independently. He writes his name and counts to nine. He will sit to listen for 2-3 books. He follows two-step directions (as long as he doesn't get distracted) and he has a basic understanding of our calendar.
As we reevaluated things this month, we realized that Nasko had met many of the goals we had set for him when we decided to homeschool - sitting and attending to a task, listening to books, learning the alphabet, answering basic questions, etc. I did not ever want to homeschool, and I certainly hoped I wouldn't have to do it forever, so when we realized Nasko had met these goals, we decided it might be time to try sending him back to school.
I researched a few different options (including Montessori) but the best place for him seemed to be with the special education district in Springfield. We had a meeting last Friday at the SASED Central school building. Here is what I typed after the meeting - mostly for my mom. (But then I decided to share it with all of you!)
The meeting went well. It was a full room - SASED principal, Athens-area SASED coordinator, psychologist, Athens social worker, SASED social worker, Athens principal, classroom teacher, and speech therapist. Everyone liked Nasko and mentioned that he'd probably be the new social favorite at school. He didn't hardly interact with the male social worker or principal, but he had lots of flirting to do with the middle-aged women in the room. A few of the people in the room (and the halls - including a former summer school teacher) remembered Nasko. Multiple people commented on his height and his (much-improved) behavior! He was very good during the 45-minute meeting, especially since all I brought for him to do was a snack!
He'll start school Monday. Bus will be here at 7:45 and will take him to school (which starts at 9:00). We determined that there's an adult monitor on the bus, so we'll try to go without a harness (with the threat of "You cannot stand up on the school bus like you can on the city bus. They will give you a buckle if you cannot obey.")
Nasko will arrive at the school by 9:00. He will leave at 2:30 and be home sometime after 3:30. (7:45-3:30. What am I going to do with all that peace and quiet?!)
Nasko asked his very important questions during the meeting, including can he bring True [his giant stuffed dog/security "blanket"]? (Yes) is there a nurse? (No. Mrs. Twist [our friend] is in charge of owies) and do they allow chocolate milk? (Yes. Mama can send chocolate almond milk for snack and lunch).
There is a microwave available for heating his lunch (hallelujah!) so that was the answer to my very important question!
I signed some paperwork and shared a little bit about Nasko's academic progress since he was last enrolled. He'll start by receiving 30 minutes of speech per week, but that amount can increased, depending on what the speech therapist recommends. The occupational therapist will do an evaluation as well. He'll either decide to do weekly services or a regular consultation with the classroom teacher (and she can implement activities into his daily schedule).
The days are VERY structured there. There's classroom time, PE, snack and lunch daily. There must be regular field trips, as today, his classroom was going roller skating.
After the meeting, Nasko asked to see his classroom.
The classroom is set up to where each of the eight children have a "desk space". The desk is surrounded on three sides. This space is used for their individual work. One girl was grunting at a slinky in her seat, and another kiddo was doing a worksheet. There's a small play area with toys and a rug. A boy was playing there. He asked me (and Nasko) a few questions and briefly played with N. There are 3-4 aides (mostly men) in the classroom in addition to the teacher.
A majority of the day is spent completing tasks one-on-one with an adult, so he'll honestly get the best part about homeschool, but not at home (with me)! I know there'll be a bit of an adjustment period to begin with (I'm picturing an over-tired, over-stimulated Nasko) but in the long run, I'm praying this goes smoothly!
I asked his teacher, Miss L, if I could volunteer one day, every other week. She'd never had another parent offer to do that, but seemed excited by the idea! I think it will help me learn more about the classroom/students so I'll have some idea of what Nasko is talking about when he tells me about his day!
Nasko (and True) bravely climbed onto the bus this morning. He's excited but very nervous about school. He was actually really interested in the idea that he would be eating lunch at the school (he's only ever gone for half-days previously). Now I'm sitting in a too-quiet house anxiously worrying about his day! The little guys and I have a play date this morning (so I don't go TOTALLY crazy).
We're all praying this transition goes smoothly and might help Nasko with some of his recent behavioral issues. And, as always, we are so proud of how far he has come!