Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do you know your alphabet?

Navigating the school system, especially the special-needs aspect of it, seems to involve a lot of acronyms -- to the point where you sometimes feel as if you're learning a whole new language!
For example:
- IPRC (Identification, Placement & Review Committee)
- IEP (Individual Education Plan
- SERT (Special Education Resource Teacher)
- EA (Educational Assistant)
Yesterday Richard and I attended the annual meeting of Jonathan's IPRC (see above!). This committee consists of his teacher, the vice-principal, the special ed person from the school board, and us his parents, and is mandated to meet at least yearly to review Jonathan's identification as a special needs student and his appropriate placement in school. At Rideau at least, these meetings are always very encouraging because the school is so interested in Jonathan's progress and so proactive in ensuring that his needs are met. The teacher talked about Jonathan's improvements in language skills, familiarity with routines, interest and attentiveness to classroom activity, etc. -- and everyone gushed about what a long way he's come since this time last year. That's very encouraging for us to hear because we aren't always aware of the ways he's progressing. While he is not working at grade level, he has his own IEP (see above!) which establishes goals for him in every area -- academic, social, physical, self-help, etc. -- and his EA works one-on-one with him in all of these areas.

Next year he will be in a regular Grade Two classroom with EA assistance. While he's been fortunate enough to have the same teacher for the past two years, he will have a new one this fall, so that will be a change, but I'm sure he will handle the transition well. It will also be special for him to have Allison at the same school; I think they'll both really enjoy that!

Friday, May 08, 2009

school decision

This spring we had a significant decision to make: where Allison would go to school this fall. Her school only goes up to grade 5 so we knew this time would come, but when we registered her back in 2003 it seemed so far away!

Our two main choices were Rideau Public School, where Jonathan attends, or St. Thomas More Catholic School, the "sister" school to Allison's current school. We hadn't originally intended to have them in different schools, of course. We had had no problem registering Allison in the Catholic school, but when it came time to register Jonathan it was a different story: they had a large number of kindergarteners registered and our non-Catholic status meant they couldn't give him a spot. So we've gone quite successfully through two years of having them in different places: their current schools are 2 blocks apart and the bell times are staggered, making dropoff and pickup quite easy most days.

There were many advantages to both options for this fall. The Catholic school is smaller (220 students to Rideau's 450); Allison would know some of the kids and staff already; many of the routines (e.g. religious instruction) would be familiar; and there are some activities shared by her current school and the new one (monthly masses, track-and-field, some field trips). The main disadvantages, though, were the location (the Catholic school is in the opposite direction from us to that of Rideau) and the fact that the kids would again be separated.

After much thought we've decided on Rideau. The school has given Jonathan a tremendous amount of support and we are confident they'll do the same for Allison. It will mean only one open-house night, one newsletter, one administration to work with, one dropoff and pickup, etc. The kids will be able to see each other regularly, and if Jonathan continues to come home for lunch Allison can do the same if she wants. The school is large, but she will know a few people already since some kids from our church go there; and she doesn't seem at all fazed by having new classmates and learning the ropes at a new place.

We're relieved to have the decision made, and we look forward to settling her in to grade 6 at Rideau this fall.

The picture above was taken on PEI's north shore last summer. I love it because I always enjoy watching Allison frolicking at the beach (I think of her as a little sandpiper), and this picture captures that sense of her looking off into the future and wondering what's in store.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

45 years young

Happy Birthday greetings to Rich today on his 45th. Here he is running the Kingston Half-Marathon, which he completed in his best time yet (1 hr 35 mins). You're not getting older, you're getting better!