Tuesday, January 06, 2009

updates on life

Well, regular readers know that we made the decision ( a HARD one!) to have Ciarra spend afternoons out of the regular classroom. We started this just before Christmas break, and yesterday was her first day back. She is a MUCH happier little girl now. Huge sigh of relief, I think we did the right thing.

Still, it is hard to let go of something I fought so long and hard for. I believe in Inclusion, theoretically. I think that it is probably the best thing for our kids with DS...if the schools are set up for it to work. Don't get me wrong, our school truly bent over backwards to make it work. But Ciarra was the first to really have a significant disability and be fully included, every step was like re-inventing the wheel. No one had any experience with modifying curriculum, there is no "Inclusion Specialist" as there is in bigger schools. We all gave it our best shot, but for Ciarra, it was incredibly stressful.

Easy for me to believe in Inclusion, but she is the one who had to go in every day and struggle through it, with people who were also struggling through it, all doing their best to make it work but with NO parameters and no previous experience of any sort. 4th grade is not the time for Mom to be hanging out, helping pave the way, it is a time for independence. Independence is hard to come by when you are in a classroom with 22 other kids who generally "get" things much more easily than you do.

I imagine it had to be really tough on her to have to work so hard to get things right, only to find the other kids had already moved on to the next subject. Dont get me wrong, Ciarra is academically doing very well. She is currently working on an Abe Lincoln project she is really into. She loves math, she loves to read. But for her, every subject requires that much more concentration, that much more time, thought, and desire to get through. To always be trying to keep up is hard, never getting a breath or being able to be first with an answer. Like her momma, my daughter likes to be first, fastest, smart enough. She is incredibly competitive. Who doesnt want to be right more often than they are wrong? It was destroying her will, and killing her desire to even go to school.

So for today, this works. I am still wrestling the demons of Inclusion in my mind, still wishing it might have worked better. But in the end, it is Ciarra who matters most. Her happiness is so much more important than her academics. Hands down, if I had to choose, it would be a happy and well-adjusted child over "fully Included"...any day of the week.

Letting go of that has been very different than I expected. I expected to feel guilty, to feel beaten, to be very sad. It was letting go of normal, again. What I have discovered is that it has been very freeing. I love to see her smile, as she tells me about her day. I have asked her at least ten times if she wants to go back to the other classroom, or if she likes the new schedule. She doesnt just like it, she loves it. She is excited to go to school, she loves to tell me about her days. She wants to work hard, she is happy. That is all I need to know to be sure this was the best decision...for her.

1 comment:

Lovin Mama said...

Hi,just found your blog. My oldest is in 4th grade after being homeschooled and my youngest had DS. My 4th grader has to work very hard in math to keep up with the class. As I watch her, I wonder how things are going to play out when my youngest is in 4th grade. Our school sounds a lot like Ciarra's. I'm glad you've found what works for her.