27 February 2009

Mommy trauma

As most of you know you, I homeschool my son. We just started last fall in Kindergarten, but so far it's going well and I like it. Think he's learning almost as much as I am.

But, on Monday my little three-year old daughter will be put on a bus and sent to school. Not your standard pre-school, but a special school offered by the district for kids with speech and language delays.

Hard decision. Both my son and daughter are in private speech therapy, but there's only so much insurance money to cover the $120 per half hour, per kid, each week. So, the private speech therapist suggested I contact the school district to get the kids tested and find out if they qualify for (free) services with the district.

If things weren't already challenging enough trying to help my kids get up to speed with their speech and language, now I have to deal with the dreaded school district. I have to tell them I'm a homeschooler, which comes across as an unspoken criticism of public schools and teachers. Then I have to jump through all of their hoops, which includes filling out a conscientious objector form because I don't immunize my kids.

Before any teacher or specialist has even seen my kids, I'm already labelled a right-wing nut.

But, wait, there's more. There are several forms that ask about my daughter's outside involvement, I guess it's looking to see how much "socialization" she gets. The form is too black-and-white for me. If my daughter is in another pre-school program, a box gets checked for that. If she's in day-care, check the next box. If she's involved in any other district run educational programs, check that box. I protest that she's involved in a children's bible study program every Thursday and numerous homeschool activities like going to the Nature Center, MN Orchestra, Children's' Theatre, etc., etc. I believe she participates in more activities than many children in her age group.

The box that gets checked on my daughter's form is: No outside involvement.

What? No outside involvement?? Is she locked in a dank closet somewhere?

Of course, things are going down hill because I already came across as a right-wing nut in my choice to homeschool, but now that I mention that the "only" outside school setting my daughter participates in happens to be, egad!, bible study, then the rubber stamp gets pulled out of the bottom drawer and I get "religious wing nut" invisibly, but indelibly, stamped on my forehead.

Actually, her teacher seemed very nice and didn't blink or roll her eyes when I mentioned homeschooling, it was just all the people I talked to before getting to this point that treated me "special." Part of the reason we didn't pursue services for my son, is that since he's already in school, homeschool, there were so many "if not, then" turns in their procedures that nobody seemed to know who we, as homeschoolers, were supposed to talk to. Appointments were arranged for testing only to have them call and cancel because my son was already of school age. There's a different process for him, you need to call another lady. Of course, that lady had no idea what I was talking about or who to forward me to.

But, Monday morning at 7:48, the bus will pull up in front of our house and gather my daughter for her first day. I've prepared her as best I can and she seems thrilled to be going. It's my husband and I that are concerned about bussing a three year-old. One of the three teachers rides on the bus and picks her up, straps her in her special seat, and then they take her to the school's front door. Upon arrival, the primary teacher meets the bus and brings the kids into the building and into the class room. NOT an easy concept to get used to, especially when my daughter is not able to tell anyone who she is, where she lives, or even if she needs to go potty.

She will attend school MWF from 8-10:30am. That's a huge amount.

Hubby is taking the morning off to see his little one safely on the bus. The rest of the family plans to hop in the car and follow the bus to school, just to ease our minds. I hope it does. Hubby is getting a chance to see the school and meet the teachers today, so hope that helps too.

Am sure my daughter will have a great time and she really needs the therapy. To my daughter, it is just another great adventure and a class with kids to play with just like in bible study. For the rest of us, it's been a long and difficult process and she hasn't even stepped on the bus yet.


Sanctus Belle said...

Rest assured, this will be ok I'm sure. My second daughter had a speech delay in early childhood which required speech therapy. At age 2 she was picked up twice a week by a bus - I walked on with her and buckled her into the car seat. When they arrived at the school, the teacher walked to the bus and took her by the hand to the classroom. I agreed to the bus at first only after I took her to her first several sessions and watched the speech therapy process myself to assure myself she would be well cared for. Those little ones are so vulnerable!

In a nutshell - she loved it. I have no idea if the speech therapy actually worked but her speech delay did resolve and now she's a normal, well adjusted 14 year old.

mum6kids said...

my nephew has samantic pragmatism and attended a special unit for speech therapy. He too loved it and is doing well now.
I'll say some prayers.
I know the 'you are a weird teacher judging homeschooler' problem. *sigh*. Jump through the hoops you have to and write in the margins when you can ;)
God bless

Christine from Maryland said...

Swiss Miss, I am praying that your daughter's experience with speech/language therapy in the public system goes well. It might not be part of the design you had for her, but sometimes our children's needs can be met in the most unplanned ways. As a teacher in Maryland public schools, I can say that many of us applaud parents who care enough to homeschool. Actually, we are tickled by anyone who shows more than surface interest in their offspring and their education! It is so obvious from your posts that you care passionately about your son and daughter and would do anything for their benefit. They are lucky children, no matter how they receive their schooling. As for all the nonsense forms and administrivia, that's bureaucracy! You wouldn't believe the silliness that I endure as coordinator of our parish's Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion program. All of our participants have to have training in the Archdiocesan Youth Protection system. So, how much contact do you have with a child when you are giving Communion?? Nuts! I expressed my opinion (and a very negative one at that)to the pastor, and he chortled. We endure foolishness to get what we want, huh?

About your daughter's not being able to tell who she is, etc., put plenty of appropriate ID on her! I'm sure the school will help you. Primary teachers are saints-in-waiting.

swissmiss said...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. Today is Monday and my daughter is currently at school. Was sick over the weekend, so it was a last minute call to even send her today.

Christine: I do think the teacher appreciated how much I knew and was able to articulate to her about my daughter's speech delay. I didn't really think about it until you made your comment :) And, in retrospect, when my husband visited on Friday, I know she thought it was very nice that our entire family was there, she even took our pictures (again for the third time of me and my daughter!).

I hope it doesn't seem that I have a total aversion to public schools :) My son was going to attend a public charter school and we decided at the last minute it just wasn't right for him at this point...he is too easily distracted and needs a bit more maturity or he would be a big disruption in a school setting. It's hard to keep him focus on the task at hand when it's one-on-one :)

Over the summer I taught Vacation Bible School with two other saintly and patient moms. We too had to take the VIRTUS training to be around children. I can understand that, but to distribute Communion is a wee bit on the extreme side.

Lisa said...

I'll send you an e-mail on this subject!
Hope you are feeling better.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Swissy: "right wing nut"--be sure to tell them you don't own a jumper dress.