Let me start by saying G's school year is going well. She started in first grade at a new school a couple weeks ago. I like the administrators, the teachers, and the schedule seems to be working out. It's a long day and they pack a lot in, but I am excited. She is going to learn a LOT this year. (And after six moves in three years, she may be able to stay here through fifth grade!!)
She has her own designated iPad which a specialist is basically building to be Georgia-specific. They are working on using many modes of communication because G's expressive communication is limited (though her speech is always, always growing in leaps and bounds) and she struggles greatly with handwriting. (Really, she is only able/willing to scribble at this point.) They are working on keyboarding and verbal transcription and other things, which honestly, I don't even remember. They're on it!
She spends about 60% of her time in the special ed classroom where they work on reading, language arts, and math. She spends social studies/science, all specials, recess, lunch, and home room with the general ed first grade class. It's not the ideal according to the theories I thought I had for Georgia, but it is ALMOST ideal for Georgia. To be completely honest, in the last 6-9 months I have wondered if she wouldn't be happier and thrive more in a 100% special needs school. I really don't know where I stand on that for her and I certainly don't think it is a decision I could make in good conscience yet, I think this situation CAN be ideal (with a little growth and adjustment), I just sometimes wonder about other placements. That is to say, before I never would have considered it, and now, I'd listen to what they have to say about their programs.
She spends her time in the special ed room with six other students. She is the only first grader. There are two second graders and four third graders. It's a LITTLE sad to consider that she is the only first grader because I really want this child to have a chance to make a real friend and with all the bouncing around she'a done, it's been very hard. Impossible. It's also a little odd because there IS a child (a little boy who, along with his family, we know and love) who has DS who spends his whole day in the general ed class. But, this is where the IEP process is a visual. It SHOULD be individual and in this case it is. That's good!
In other ways being the sole first grader is great for G. She likes older kids, does well with them, and she is exposed to other lessons. But when it's time for first grade work? She's alone with the teacher(s). A little lonely, sure, but I tell you, we couldn't afford to pay for that kind of 1:1 (really 3:1) instruction!
There are practical implications to not being able to send your child to the neighborhood school. G cannot go to her neighborhood school because they do not have the adaptive learning support classroom available there. This means no neighborhood friends in class, no possibility to catch a ride with another family should something happen (car broken down, sick mom or sibling, etc), and we have to drive clear across Maryland (not really, but...) to get her there (highways, byways, train tracks, passing through local university traffic, etc). God forbid we oversleep or she has a difficult morning.
I don't know what we'll do next year when Rainer is supposed to be at school at 8:30 and she's supposed to be at a school 15 minutes later half an hour drive away! But that's really a whole 'nother story. I don't yet know where Rainer will go to school. We currently have, I think, six possibilities.
Whatever happened to the neighborhood schoolhouse???