Sunday, November 20, 2011

School's good so far

This update is long overdue.

I've been busy with errands and projects. I'm also very tired having to drive on average 3 hours a day just transporting him to and from school. I'm praying for a good helper once my current one completes her contract because I'd rather do without a helper than to have another one like her again.

My son is enjoying school very much. He really likes his teacher, whom I think is great (not perfect, but still great). She has been very supportive and sees his abilities first before his disabilities. She is very approachable and answers whatever questions I have, whether about him or about the curriculum.

I've seen her in action in class (I volunteered to put up some decorations, and also during an Open Morning they had) and like the way she achieves the learning objectives. Her lessons are interesting, a lot of fun and definitely promotes learning.

I dont think I can say that for some of the other subjects that she doesn't teach (e.g. BM). There's such an obvious difference in teaching methods/delivery between a local teacher (think kebangsaan school) and her.

She reckons my son is about average academically compared to his peers. "Average" is pretty good for me, given that he does have special needs, and that he is being compared to others who are pretty smart (the school's entrance assessment seives out the "good" ones).

It's hard work trying to keep him "average" especially now because there's just so little time left in a day after he comes home from school. Also, the literacy and numeracy curriculum for Year 1 seems to cover quite a lot of areas and I'm honestly struggling to support him in those areas at home.

I'm struggling to fit in the therapies he needs, the swim class, his free playtime, his music class, his maths enrichment class and homework. One reason I preferred an International school is because there's very little homework compared to a Kebangsaan or Chinese school. For Year 1, there's just a weekly English spelling test, a weekly reading book which the teacher assigns, one library book a week which he chooses, and ad hoc projects.

Social wise, he seems to be a hit among some of the girls in his class. They've probably fallen for his cuteness (chubby cheeks and mannerism) and usually assist him with this or that, without him asking, and sometimes without him needing their assistance.

I've also created various "social opportunities" for him in ad-hoc show and tell sessions. I do it in the hope of boosting his self-confidence, to get him to talk, to get others to talk to him, to get others think he's "cool" etc. Sneaky? Maybe. But I think it's worked.

Teacher says that he's one of their "smilers"... a child who's often smiling. She says that he often has a friend with him and seldom alone.

In the first two weeks of school, I saw for myself how kids come up to him to see what he's drawing on his personal whiteboard and interact with him from there, before class starts proper. It was so heart warming to see that for myself, that I almost cried. In the first two weeks of school, it felt like I was walking on sunshine. Seriously happy. He had settled down so fast and so well that it was beyond my wildest dreams. God is so great!

This does not mean it's been perfectly smooth all the while. There are many areas I need to continue working on with him, and areas which I've yet to figure out how to help him. Kids at that age do not necessarily see the disabilities. They love to help. That's what my friend who has special needs kids (in a different international school) had told me, and I do see that it's true. But she said that things change as the kids grow older and more mature in thinking, in interests, etc.

I've met most, but not all the parents of his classmates. I made it a point to befriend them, yet I am cautious on not revealing his disabilities. At this point, they probably do not know of his disabilities, but may have picked up on some odd things about him. Two mums have asked his age.

I also made it a point to be helpful to the teacher in small and not so small ways. It's not that I'm currying favour (it doesn't work that way with caucasians usually). It's just that if the teacher needs help, and then gets that help, then I think she'll be less tired and stressed and be a better teacher for the kids.

There's lots more that I can write about (especially about his frequent colds/runny nose in Sept & Oct!) but it's getting late. My alarm clock is permanently set at 5.20am. Leaving the house 5-10 min late makes a big difference. Getting a good night's rest means I'm less grouchy and impatient and less likely to doze off on the road in the afternoons.

So while my son seems to have settled down well, I'm still trying to find an equillibrium. I know that I cant achieve everything I wish to do. I know that I still need a good helper. I know that I still need a lot of support - from my husband, from my sister, from his teachers (school and those outside school), from his therapist. Most of all, I cant do it without God (I forget that sometimes, and often fall flat on my face). Oh yes, I also need to schedule some "me time", on a regular basis instead of fitting in everything else first. : D