The planning for school for September has been taking up most of my time as of late. I think we are almost 100% sure Kayla will be attending French Immersion school in the Fall for Grade 1. So we'll be pulling her out of Montessori where she has been for the past 3 years and putting her into the public school system. Its going to be a huge change (maybe more so for us than her), as school starts at 8am and finishes at 2:30pm...which we can't wrap our heads around how Kayla (and us) are going to wake up so early, and everything in Grade 1 will be 100% French including math, music, gym etc....and we don't even know French! But what we do know is that Kayla is very strong in languages and she currently enjoys learning French at the Montessori. Also, the French Immersion program can only be entered into in Grade 1, so we figure she should try it out, and if she doesn't like it, we can always put her back into the regular public school.
Lauren schooling has also been on the top our agenda these recent weeks. The options for her are the local regular public school, where she would be starting Junior Kindergarten with some extra support in the classroom or Bloorview Childrens Rehab Centre, which has a JK/SK/Gr. 1 program for special needs kids. We went today to meet the intake team at Bloorview as they wanted to meet Lauren. As we walked down the halls at Bloorview, you definitely felt that it was a very loving and warm environment, however it was tough seeing toddlers with varying challenges, and of course the physical challenges and disabilities being more notable. I saw kids as small as Lauren using walkers of varying sorts and using other physical apparatuses (I'm not even sure what they are called) to get around. I saw a child, maybe 6, crawling, as she became frustrated with her walker and therapist. We met with the co-ordinator, an OT, PT, and ST. They had Lauren engage in some play and Lauren did really really well...actually I thought she probably performed to the best of her capability at the interview...which was a huge surprise for Steve and I. Lauren was engaged the whole time, didn't cling onto us and interacted with the therapist and us. She did some good joint attention with her eyes, and then the ST sat her down and gave her a few instructions which she followed nicely. The ST used Lauren's PEC book and asked Lauren to select an activity, which she selected ball, and Lauren proceeded to throw the ball to me, Steve and the therapist one by one (never seen her do this before). Lauren also selected the Hungry Caterpillar book and when the ST asked her to point to the caterpillar, she got did so correctly, and when the ST asked her to point to the ice cream, she also did it correctly...so all of this was a huge shock for me, cause I read her that same book almost every week before she goes to bed, and when I ask her to point out certain objects, she just randomly points to anything in the book!! Maybe I need to change the tone in my voice...as the ST did have a very calm, SOFT, gentle tone...unlike me...harsh, overbearing, commanding...
Overall the interview went well, Lauren did really well (maybe too well) and they all loved Lauren - now its more of a question whether she will be a good fit for their program. Its a very small class ratio, 1:6-8 with 2 teachers and an OT/PT/ST - so really almost 1:2 or better. They would likely place Lauren with similar peers (i.e. communication disorders) such that they can work together on common goals. The school follows the same curriculum as a regular JK class and they have music, art and swimming. They would bus Lauren in from where we live (about a 45 minute ride) with school starting at 8:30 and finishing up at 3:00 or so. We are excited about this potential opportunity and I think if we get accepted we will most likely take it, try it out, and if it doesn't work for her, we can always move her to the regular public school board. We find out in April/May. Cross our fingers.
Its ironic how two sisters could be on such opposite poles with their language and communication skills. One is clipping at a pace that probably puts her at a grade 1/2 level and the other is crawling so slowly even her younger cousin, who is not even 2, is passing her by. Nevertheless I'm happy that Kayla and Lauren have found some common ground for communication and understanding. Its not about the words, what you say and what you don't say, but more about the winces and smiles, the twinkles in the eye and the gesturing of sorts and the hugs and kisses. Yes it does hurt to see Kayla laugh and giggle with her friends and cousins as they share secrets and jokes and know that Lauren cannot do the same (and as my Dad would say "not just yet"). But, thankfully, those tears and heartaches are far and few between. We continue to focus on the positives and the many improvements she has made the last few months, the last year.
Which reminds me that I really should continue to post pictures of her most recent "inchstones" - the most immediate ones that come to mind are:
- Lauren fed her baby without being prompted
- She undid the zipper on her own ski jacket, took it off and put it away
- Lauren took off her own pajama pants almost completely on her own (I had to help her get it over her bum)
- Lauren lets me floss her teeth at night
- Lauren is handing picture cards to non-immediate family members and adult friends and requesting items
- The pre-school has told me she is able to recognize her own name....not sure if I believe that one.
Will definitely post some pictures soon.