Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Only twelve more years to go!

Well it's been more than a week - a long and interesting and fairly exciting week - since school began.

I am pleased to report that things are going well. For Princess, things are going better than expected (so far!). Maybe not so much for Little Man, but we're working on it. He didn't really want to participate in our first day photos and was pretty cool about going up to his new classroom and just getting on with things, but we all know still waters run deep, and that's a whole other post... Overall though, they've both had a good start to the school year.

For her Prep year, Princess is actually attending two schools - three days a week our local state school, and two days at a nearby special school (officially an ECDP, but don't ask me what that stands for!). We're hoping this combination will cater for her needs socially, intellectually, physically, etc. By the time she begins Grade One next year, she'll be ready to hold her own in the mainstream world!

Anyway, Princess's first ever school day began at home like this...

The excitement was palpable...

...and she wasn't let down. As we all arrived at our local school and began walking/wheeling up the path to her classroom, we were joined quite coincidentally by one of Princess's 'best friends' from her old kindy. Instant relaxation. It was just like old times! On entering her classroom, although busy, a lovely sense of excited calm pervaded. Princess had her factory default face on, but she was clearly happy to be there.

We met her teacher, the fantastic Mrs A, and her new teacher aide, the lovely Ms L. We are really pleased that Ms L is a full-time aide to Princess (as well as another little girl in the class), for the three days she's at that school. Ms L has many years experience working with kids with extra needs, and they've been getting along well.

Thankfully, her teachers already knew lots about Princess before we arrived. The previous week, our OT, AVT:PI (that's Occupational Therapist and Advisory Visiting Teacher:Physical Impairment, respectively) and myself had given a powerpoint presentation all about her to the entire school staff, taking up a fair amount of their pupil-free day too. (Now staff come up and say hi to me all the time, and I haven't a clue who they are! This happens a lot around Princess).

Her OT and AVT:PI were also there on the first day, making adjustments as necessary to the two posture chairs and corner seat acquired for the classroom. A tradesman had been putting the finishing touches onto the purpose-built cubicle in the adjacent bathroom, big enough to accommodate a toilet chair for Princess, with an accessible sink, and we managed to put together a makeshift change table in there as well.

Parents were welcome to hang out for as long as they needed. I stayed quite some time, not because Princess wanted me there - she couldn't have given two hoots! - but it took a while to get the equipment set up right and I was asked to give my input, so I did! I saw Princess happily listening to Mrs A during circle time on the floor (albeit in her wheelchair on the first day - now she sits in her corner chair on the floor with the other children).

After morning tea, Princess sat in her posture chair with a few other kids at the specially-acquired inclusion table to help make a batch of playdough. Another boy she knew from kindy held the bowl for her, unprompted, when it was her turn to stir. I was impressed.

As I finally left, Ms L was about to take her outside to do some easel painting standing up. I kissed Princess goodbye, she gaily said "Bye Mummy, see you when you pick me up!" and didn't look back. Yippee, I sung to myself. This is great. The school has been wonderfully supportive, and the effect has already been positive.

Long may it last.

Back home at the end of their first day the kids didn't feel like smiling for the camera anymore, preferring to ham it up. But truly, they'd had a good day...

Next instalment, First Day at The Other School, coming soon...

1 comment:

Jacqui said...

Geez, can you kids look any cuter.

Glad school went so well. Princess sounds like she has the best of both worlds.