Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Saturday, May 29, 2010

School Options for the Fall

Since moving up to the 4 year old room at her preschool, we have been less than thrilled with Hannah's new teacher. It's hard to put a definite finger on what bothers us, but it's definitely not been as positive of an experience as Hannah had in her 3 year old classroom. She doesn't seem to connect with her current teachers at all. In fact, in the mornings I usually drop her off before her teachers arrive so she goes into the 3 year old room until they get there. On those days she separates fairly easily and is welcomed warmly. When we arrive slightly later and the assistant teacher is already at school Hannah has a much harder time with me leaving. She clings to my leg, says she doesn't want to stay at school, and doesn't get noticed much by the teacher. There's not even a mention of anything like, "Do you want to run an errand with me Hannah?" or "Why don't we read this book together," to distract her from my leaving. She's left completely on her own to work it out. In her old room I got the sense that the teachers truly loved Hannah. They were concerned about her best interests. I just don't get that sense in her new room. I'm sure the teachers care about doing a good job and are kind to the children, but I don't get the sense that they really care about Hannah as an individual child. She's just another kid in the class to them is the feeling I get. I spoke with the teacher about our concerns for Hannah and our hopes for how her school experience would continue to go. I even sent her a LONG follow up email with more detailed information about Hannah and some tips about what works best for us at home with Hannah. We pretty much received the standard, "yeah, yeah I know what I'm doing and I don't need to do anything differently for your child." response. She was polite, but was pretty clear that she knew how to deal with kids with SPD and that she did not feel any need to adjust the difficulty of some of her activities to appropriately challenge Hannah because her lesson plans are all open ended enough for her to get the challenge she needs. The problem is that she's not getting the challenge that she needs. She never brings anything tangible home at all. There are no products of her learning. No art projects, writing attempts, cut and paste activities, etc. She still hasn't read anything at all in the classroom that the teacher is aware of and she will not encourage her to do so. Though I know that she does occasionally read to herself and other children during free play time in the afternoons after her teacher has left. It's all just very frustrating. As Hannah's academic abilities continue to progress at lightning speed and as we learn more about the kindergarten curriculum and environment at the public school we have become very worried about what we should do with Hannah when she turns five as far as schooling options. We've actually struggled pretty mightily about what to do for her this coming fall, but I think we've finally made our decision. We've decided to home school Hannah (using a kindergarten curriculum since she's more than ready already) this fall as a trial run to see if this is even a feasible option for kindergarten when she's five. If things go well we'll home school her for kindergarten (her five year old year) as well and then reevaluate where to go from there once she's old enough for first grade. If homeschooling is an epic fail then we really won't have lost anything since she technically doesn't have to be in any kind of school yet and she could already breeze through the academic portions of kindergarten so she won't be behind in that respect. To keep her social skills progressing we plan to enroll her in several classes at the local YMCA and let her join the local youth soccer program. She might even continue to go to her current preschool one day a week so that she can keep up the relationships she has already formed with the kids there, but I'm not sure if we'll go that route or not. Of course we'll continue to do all the fun stuff we like to do like go to the beach, the museum and the zoo, library story time, etc and look for as many play dates as we can get. I really think the social aspects of homeschooling will be Hannah's biggest challenge, but I'm hopeful that we can circumvent them with some good planning and a consistent routine as far as classes, standing play dates, story times, etc. I'm both excited and nervous at the same time about starting up homeschooling. I'm excited about all I can teach Hannah now that she's ripe for learning and happy about the extra time we'll have to do fun stuff, but I'm also worried that I won't be able to replicate the institutional structure that traditional preschool/elementary school provides. I guess we'll see how it goes. Like I said before, this is why we're doing a trial run now.

Today I was hoping to kick off our three day weekend by spending time at the beach or going to the zoo, but Hannah came home from school yesterday with a fever (102.5 degrees) and it didn't break over the night. Today it's been hovering in the 103. 5 degrees range. So much for fun outings. She's pretty congested, but other than that and the fever she has no other real symptoms. It appears to just be a cold. Let's hope it clears up before the weekend is over so that we can do at least a little bit of fun stuff.

Despite feeling crummy, Hannah managed to bless me with two very interesting conversations today. The first occurred while we were getting dressed this morning. She was stalling and wallering around on the floor when all of a sudden she sat up and asked, "Mommy, do you know about silver panels?" Confused, I replied, "Do you mean panels that are the color silver?" She said, "Yes, do you know how they work?" This confused me even more. What in the heck were silver panels? So, I asked her, "Hannah where did you learn about silver panels?" "From Curious George," she replied. It was then that the light bulb immediately clicked on inside my head. I said, "Do you mean solar panels?" She brightened and practically shouted, "Yeah, solar panels!" I remembered that about a month ago we had watched an episode of Curious George where too many air conditioners caused a black out in the city, but the Professor powered a generator at the museum using solar panels. A month ago! Apparently she'd been mulling the episode around in her head and wanted to know how solar panels worked and to find out if we had any! We talked in length about what little knowledge I had about solar panels (thankfully it was more than she knew and enough to satisfy her curiosity!) and I was able to show her the solar powered calculator we had and we experimented with it by placing it in the direct light and then hiding the collection panels from the light and watching it shut off. It was really fun.

The second conversation started as a discussion about germs, spurred I'm sure by the fact that she is sick. She was asking about whether or not germs had mouths and if they were monsters (thanks to a book she has that shows a cartoon picture of a germ) and what they looked like. I explained that germs are too little for us to see with our eyes and that I don't really know what they look like, but that different germs probably each look different just like different people do. I told her that in order to see what a germ looked like you need to use a microscope. At first she didn't know what a microscope was, but after I described one she piped up with, "Oh, like at the museum. I need one of those. I wish I had a really big microscope attached to my eyes so that could see really little things really big." On and on and on she went about wanting a microscope and about how she wanted one attached to her eyes. Maybe I'll have to get her some child sized binoculars. That's not exactly the same, but it's somewhat close and probably a better choice than a microscope. I'm not sure she's quite ready for a microscope, a magnifying glass maybe, but not a microscope. I do appreciate her desire though. I had a microscope as a kid (a much OLDER kid mind you) and I loved it. I had a blast preparing my own slides and examining the premade ones that came with it.

Photo Notes: In the first picture you see Hannah proudly displaying a picture she drew of our family. Pictured are Hannah, Daddy, Grandpa and Mommy, plus a flower. I'm the person on the top left that actually has a separate head and body. Notice the baby growing in my tummy. No, I'm not pregnant. It's just wishful thinking on her part and a reaction I think to a friend who recently had a baby. There's been a lot of references to a baby in my tummy lately!

The rest of the pictures are Hannah playing in the sprinkler in our backyard.


Angie said...

I've got LOTS of books to give to Hannah!! My parents have been emptying things out of the house and I think she's really going to like some of them. One of them is a fairy tale book with TONS of stories in it!! Thank you for the well wishes for Kahlua! She's recovering very well. As for Sadie she's doing fabulous with Kahlua. They are in the same room now very often and Kahlua is now able to walk RIGHT by Sadie without her flinching. Kahlua being down for the surgery has really helped Sadie learn she isn't as much of a threat as she thought!!

Lora said...

I totally support your decision to home school. Learning is so natural to kids--and you're already teaching her--i.e. the solar powered calculator example! That said, this fall will be our first year homeschooling and I'm nervous too. I know we can do it!

Elizabeth Channel said...

I think you are making a fantastic decision and that Hannah will thrive being homeschooled! (Of course I pulled E out of preschool to homeschool him, too, although now several years later we are back in a structured school.) The social is the hardest, but as long as you keep her involved in all those structured activities you described, this should be so great for Hannah, in my humble opinion.

There are so many great curriculum out there and I know you will have fun researching the options!

Congrats on your decision!