Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your Kid Gonna Make Toast or Make a Difference?

Every single exit from her regular classroom is taken very seriously for my daughter, Addie. The reasons behind the exit, the gains projected, the risk of missing what's happening in her absence are all taken into consideration. Most often, we decline to excuse her from what she learns with her peers in favor of something else, even Friday swim with the spec ed class. She does join 4 of her K5 classmates to leave the room for reading support during the week - a support accessed by all kids when needed, not specific to spec ed students, not "special" at all. I have granted permission for Addie to join the special ed class on a field trip to the zoo and to go out to lunch, both intended for diversion, not for practical, sub-academic learning. Other than that, through 2 years of stating our case and demonstrating why it is critical for Addie, she spends her days in K5, learning what K5 kids learn.

I could not ever bring myself to sign the permission slip that Lisa Pugh found in her daughter's backpack. Indeed, I will have a harder time, as Addie grows, and the term "life skills" is tossed in more frequently to explain why she isn't in Math, why she is learning to follow a recipe instead of how to write a persuasive composition, why we will spend 3 years on confirming that she knows every last sight word before she can graduate on to actual decoding... I understand K5 is relatively effortless when it comes to inclusion and general curriculum modifications. But that tells me we all need to step it up and get creative, not "teach" kids how to run errands or make toast in place of general curriculum. Or worse still, show her that changing oil is something she might aspire to, if she starts studying the process at age 10...

Please read Lisa's brilliant post and share it far and wide. Regardless of policy and legislation, if expectations are in the wrong place, we lose. Lisa doesn't just rant about that, she offers the stats behind it and throws down the gauntlet to us all.

Life Skills in a Jiffy, by Lisa Pugh

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I have a...

...child with Standard Needs. Two of them, in fact.

Check out today's post at Hopeful Parents.

Standard Needs

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not Needed

I post an uncharacteristically brief one today to neutralize a bit of nervous energy.

A year ago I wrote about getting the shaft for Mother's Day. That very event is taking place today for the new crop of junior kindergarten mothers. I wish for them a different experience than mine. There were too many practical expectations of me that day, so I got cheated out of what was supposed to be sepia-toned mental flip book of mom-honor and cuteness. Instead, my memories are red ones, memories of sweat, frustration and separation.

But today I write about getting an unexpected and absolutely thrilling gift from people I had never seen until a few months ago. I sought nothing from these people, and yet they have offered a string of varied sized pearls, one by one, since we met. We get a big one tomorrow.

Addie will go on a play date. A drop off play date. My presence is not expected. I am not needed. I would serve no purpose. I am not wanted.

There are many times I feel redundant with my 5th grader. Sometimes the feeling is justified and good, other times not so much. But the times I've felt superfluous when Addie's out in the world are rare indeed. I am a collector and hoarder of such times.

I know Addie's pal's dad is a reader here on FJC. I hope that he and his family understand that taking their daughter's lead in naturally and guilelessly reaching out to pluck Addie to be a part of their lives is precious and hopeful to me. Even her brother crossed his fingers when coming to pick his sister up from a play date at our house a few months ago, wishing that it went well so there would be a "next time" and they could host at their house. I hope they all understand that they are propping open a door that had been closed for nearly 7 years.

Addie and Megan won't see it that way - they'll just consider it a couple of friends hanging out. But I see it as a great vote of confidence for what is possible... maybe even probable, as we gradually turn the world over to Megan, Addie and all the other seedlings.

Happy Mother's Day, mother-readers. May you know the feeling of being completely and utterly unnecessary, even if just briefly.