• Gina

Back to School

School starts up in our neck of the woods in 11 days. For the past few months my husband and I have been wavering back and forth about sending some of our children back to public school. After much discussion, deliberation, and let's be real, massive anxiety, we've decided to take the leap and send three of our kiddos back to school.

Yep. That's right. With 11 days to spare, we're diving back into traditional schooling. I'm not going to lie...I have very mixed feelings about this decision, but our motto has always been, "Nothing is permanent" and this decision is no different.

This means, in addition to working non-stop on the upcoming Summits, I am now cramming all of the back to school fun into a week's time. Thank goodness for Target's "School List Assist" option. Target IS NOT ready for the mayhem we would unleash on their school supply section, but nearly all of the kids' supplies have been conveniently ordered online and my inbox is filling up with alerts letting me know items are being shipped. It seems I'll be getting about 100 boxes for my three kids' supplies. Efficiency at its best.

Additionally, I've found myself panicking about all of the other back to school prep I need to check off the list before school begins. Eye appointments. Vaccination records. Physicals. 504 Meetings. Online registration. Dang, homeschooling was so much easier on my anxiety and time management! It was also a lot lighter on the pocketbook.

Our kids are excited, but apprehensive. I am leery and praying I do not have to go to battle to get their accommodations in place. Honestly, we just want them to receive the supports they need to be successful. It should not be a challenge, but I'm skeptical. I've learned my lesson in the past: what should be a simple process can be infinitely more complicated than it needs to be.

Over time I have developed a great relationship with the new special education coordinator in our district. I respect him, his willingness to listen, and to cooperatively solve problems. I am hopeful we will have better luck this time around and, if not, we will cross that bridge when, or if, we come to it.

You see, it is so very important to develop a positive relationship with the school if our children are going to be successful. We have to feel comfortable communicating and cooperatively addressing any challenges that arise. We have to feel like we are all an equally valuable member of our kiddos' educational team. We all have to learn to work together to best support the child. If any of these relationships are strained or neglected, it may not be a very smooth year.

For us, the school-parent relationship deteriorated over time when our children were in school last. After hours and hours of advocating for our younger son and desperately trying to get him the support he needed, the relationship became too hostile and strained to, in good conscience, continue sending him to school. We removed him first and if you do some simple math, you'll have figured out one of our children will not be returning to the traditional classroom again this year. He will remain at home with me and continue to be reintroduced to school work.

Due to the trauma he experienced throughout the 3.5 years he spent being restrained, secluded, and punished for his disabilities while at school, we have been following the instructions of his neuropsychologist to de-school him. What does that mean? Basically, we have had to tread very lightly and avoid re-triggering him when we present work. It has been a challenge, but after learning words that trigger him and coming up with alternative ways of teaching basic skills, we're slowly getting back into the groove. The process has definitely been trying, but hopefully this year will go a little more smoothly with the other three gone. Time will tell!

We are hopeful we can develop a better parent-school relationship this school year. The administration has changed since our children last attended their elementary school and we're starting a new adventure with our oldest heading off to junior high. We hope it will be a nice, clean start and our children will successfully reintegrate into their respective schools.

We have learned so much about our kiddos in the past year and have spent a significant amount of time working with therapists. Occupational Therapy has been a godsend to our family and helped us make sense of the challenges our children have been experiencing for years. I am hopeful the kids' schools will consider the recommendations from their therapists and we can all start the year off on a positive note. My fingers and toes will be crossed!

Life is typically one day at a time around here. I know I will be quite anxious sending them off on that first day and the days to follow, but there will be a part of me that will be happy to return to a more traditional schedule. I know many of you are also having mixed feelings about the return of the school year. You're not alone! Do your best to take a deep breath and focus on developing the school-parent relationship. There will be stumbles along the way, but keep moving forward and being your child's greatest supporter.

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