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Bye, Bye, School Bus

January 26, 2012

The question of the week is: How is public school going for Hope?


Last December I drove down to our school district’s service center with Hope’s standardized test scores, home school  report cards, birth certificate, and proof of our residence in hand and transferred her enrollment from our home school to our neighborhood elementary school January 1.

It took about 10 minutes of paperwork, a couple of clicks on their computer, and it was done. I walked out with a fat bundle of info. on how to get Hope on the bus route, how to deposit money in her lunch account, how to contact the school for a tour and to meet her teacher, and how to join the PTA.

Just before Christmas break, Papa took Hope to school to visit her class. They came in at read-aloud time and Hope sat in a circle on the floor and listened to a story about Hanukkah elves –so Papa reported.

When I asked Hope what she thought of her new class, she talked for five minutes straight about what the other girls’ were wearing, especially their shoes, and the color and cut of their hair.

I laughed to myself that I was expecting her to tell me whether there was a reading corner (there is), math manipulatives (lots), daily and weekly picture schedules posted (there are), and where her desk is. I had to find out the things that were important to me by visiting her classroom myself.

Instead, my Barbie girl told me what was important to her and I realized that a quick trip to Once Upon A Child was in order. $12.00 later, Hope’s only qualms about going to school (an updated wardrobe) were gone.

January 3, I came downstairs to this slightly unusual sight: Hope accepting help from Faith; Faith enjoying her little sister.


Why is it working? From a human perspective:

1.) Hope goes to bed early and is an earlier riser. We have no control over school start time so are blessed that her sleep pattern coincides. Adequate sleep makes such a difference in Hope’s ability to function that school start time might have been a deal-breaker.

2.) Hope has teacher with 24 years experience with first graders. She is calm, organized, and not phased by much. We had no choice of teachers. With Hope, class size is 21.

3.) Our district understands that reading is fundamental. A working memory deficit is Hope’s most significant cognitive impact of prenatal alcohol exposure. This makes her mostly immune to phonics-based learning because even though she knows phonics rules, when she sounds out a word, by the time she gets to the last sound, she’s often forgotten what the first sound was. She’s learning to read by memorizing whole words and filing them in long-term memory, one of her cognitive strengths.

Hope is not as far behind in learning to read as I guessed. She’s currently reading at the beginning of first grade level in the middle of first grade. However, our district targets reading for remediation in first grade because the curriculum expects second graders to have basic fluency. So Hope is eligible for 1/2 hour of tutoring with a reading specialist every day. I didn’t need to advocate for this; by the second week of school, her teacher had already identified the need.

4.) Hope is ahead of her class in subjects not dependent on reading, like math and science. So while reading is challenging, that is offset by subjects that come easily. She feels generally competent academically.

5.) Hope’s social IQ is not impaired and she’s an extrovert.  It has been easy for integrate into her classroom, even mid-year. Being able to pick up social cues and rules by observing others is obviously a big help.

I haven’t even gotten to the parts you really want to know yet! But I’m out of time until tomorrow.

The bus at the top is Joy’s and the title is her favorite thing to say after dumping people in :).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2012 1:34 pm

    Hi there. I know I’ve only been following you for a short while, so I hope you don’t mind that I tagged you for a meme that is making its way around the special needs parenting community. I think it’s really important to share and pass along the accommodations we are getting for our children so that we can help others travel this road. I hope you will consider participating!

    • January 27, 2012 2:06 pm

      Thanks, Karla! I have a post about Joy’s IEP coming up because our experience with Joy was a big help in our decision to send Hope.

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