My kids survived their first week of public school. But of course they did. It was I who nearly suffered a nervous breakdown. Though we stood outside and took some adorable first day of school photos, the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine.
Getting out the door is the first hurdle. We’re used to sleeping in past 8am and starting school leisurely during breakfast. The first week the kids got on the bus at 6:57am. Yea, you read that right. For a start time of 7:35. Talk about brutal. Then week three they changed it to a bus time of 6:39am!
I waited at the bus stop with them after the first day (we drove them) and more than once they were finishing their breakfast at the bus stop. We pack their lunches and get everything ready the night before but just getting moving in the morning is hard enough. We had to chase the bus down one day when it was a few minutes early. And another day Lil’ J was downing her Stonyfield Yogurt Kids Pouch a few seconds before she hopped on.
If you watched my Instagram stories last week you likely saw my tearful laments about dropping my kids off the first day. I wasn’t as worried about my son who was only slightly nervous about me leaving him all day at Kindergarten. I didn’t even cry. But when I went to my daughter’s third grade class and she sat down to a get to know you worksheet at her desk the mood shifted.
She looked at the worksheet and asked me what it said. I read the first section to her asking about her hobbies and interests. Then she looked at me with her big bright eyes holding back tears telling me she didn’t know how to spell it.
My heart began to crumble in my chest. I told her to try her best to sound it out, or ask the teacher, though she likely wouldn’t penalize her for spelling. I glanced at the child next to her who looked to be writing paragraphs with perfect penmanship and I nearly lost it.
We took a few pictures then I did my best to kiss her quickly and run out of the room before I cried all over the kids. I barely made it out the door before I started sobbing. I had a chance to tell the teacher about her dyslexia and reading struggles but I wasn’t sure if I should have elaborated more, sent a detailed note, or whatever.
When I went to pick her up at school she skipped up to me and told me how amazing her day was. She loved her teacher and her class. School was fun! What a relief! Later that night I asked if she had any insecurities about school and she said she was worried she’d get on the wrong bus home.
That was it.
At meet the teacher night I ran into the assistant principal and asked her about setting up an IEP for my daughter for her dyslexia. She said they did 504s and we scheduled a meeting to talk about it on Wednesday.
I spent the next 48 hours researching the difference between 504s and IEPs, gathering Lil’ J’s previous work, confirming details with her tutor, and praying.
I was prepared to walk into the meeting with a list of demands including a written one that they begin a formal evaluation within 60 days and keep me informed on the progress. I was so nervous and the meeting went nothing like I expected.
The assistant principal greeted me politely and walked me to a conference room with the dyslexia tutor and my daughter’s teacher. I was able to tell them her backstory of how she’d been memorizing books in kinder, and it took me awhile to realize she wasn’t not trying… she was trying, very hard. But has a more serious issue. I told them about her tutor and where her reading level is currently. And I was able to tell them how smart she is, and how she loves learning, and school, and how her comprehension is incredible.
They all nodded in understanding and told me with my permission, they would start the evaluation the next day. There was no need for my formal letter or my list of demands. We’ll meet again after the evaluation is complete (very quickly) and talk about the recommendations for services and accommodations. The assistant principal even shared that her daughter is dyslexic and they had a similar experience in the beginning finding out about it.
I walked out of that meeting on cloud 9. Thrilled that it had gone so much better than I had envisioned and confidant that this year back in public school would be great for my kids.
Then, I got a message from my son’s teacher that changed my mind.
To be continued… Part 2 live tomorrow morning.