Tuesday, February 23, 2010

That time of year. Spring? No IEP meetings.

Shea is almost 6. This post is not about his birthday although we will be thinking of that quite soon.

6 is when the public schools crunch each kid with an IEP through all the developmental tests again plus reading, writing and math. They did the whole gambit of testing when he was three and now they will do it again for 6. Boy. Have we learned a thing or two since then.

Every year there is a mandatory IEP meeting near your child's birthday. Incidentally, a parent can request an IEP meeting whenever they want. Anytime you feel you need to share something important with your child's team, you can request a meeting.

But this year it is different. He is 6!

This morning we had the 1st of 3 meetings that will all happen within the next 6 weeks. It was the "intake" meeting asking us what we wanted to focus on, etc. General impressions, comments.

The 2nd will be after all the battery of tests are done and they will go over all the results. That was the one 3 years ago, where they pointed to a chart to show that Shea landed "less than average intelligence" for one of the test. Ugh.

The 3rd will be the IEP meeting that formally puts into writing everything we've decided.

Whew... Epic. No wonder they only do it every 3 years.

It was a lively meeting and several thoughts popped into my brain to share.

Like scheduling. They keep on suggesting 8:00 AM for these meetings! But Shea doesn't go to school until 9:00. So, how are both parents supposed to go to the meeting? The theory being that for teachers to be involved it has to be before school.

I think we all remember the main lesson I got out of doing this whole thing when Shea was 3. Never go to the meetings alone!

So, I gently insisted that 8:00 AM meeting isn't going to work. I suggested maybe it wasn't that important to have the teacher in the room with us at the same time as long as his case worker was there.

Sure enough. We worked around it. The teachers met early and then Shea's case worker and the psychologist met both Jake and I at 9:00.

But now they want to do the 2nd meeting at 8:00 again! Sorry, same answer. How many times do I have to explain this? I guess I don't blame them for asking but "hello?".

I did offer to do it after school and have Molly watch Shea. They probably won't like that but I don't really care! They can figure it out.

Another weird thing, sort of good I guess, that came up is the Kindergarten teacher thinks Shea may be ready for 1st grade next year.

Just as a reminder: the plan was to do another round of full day Kindergarten next year. This year was just a try-out and I was relieved to know that he was going to get another year to work on expressive language and social stuff, etc.

But now they say that there may not be full day Kindergarten next year. So they are sort of encouraging us to think about that but I have mixed feelings.

On one hand I am happy that Shea appears to be at grade level for academics and that the teacher sees him that way. Although all this upcoming testing will really help determine if he really is.

Yet his social skills and some behavioral stuff continue to come into play regularly. I am nervous about sending him off where so much more is going to be expected of him. Worried that he won't be able to succeed, that he will get lost in the shuffle

And, there lies my other concern, maybe I am the one that is holding him back. Maybe we need to push him a bit more, set the bar higher. I mean, so far it has worked out well this year.

Earlier than expected he could be part of the multi-age 1, 2, 3rd program that Molly went through. I know all the teachers. I love the program; it is very flexible and creative. Simply wonderful, in fact. I know the exact teacher. He would be hanging with the big kids and emulating up.

So, we are chewing on big things tonight and for the next few weeks. But I don't have to make it alone. I immediately sent off the news to his OT, SLP for comment with good observations and excellent points coming in as I write.

Oh, and another thing; the teachers say he raises his hand repeatedly in class to answer questions!

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