S has literally been counting down the days for school to start. And on Wednesday and Thursday, he was counting down the hours. Which means that it was unfortunate for us that for the staggered transition into school for the first day, we were in the afternoon group – so had to wait all those hours until 12.30 before we went to school.
At 6am he was dragging his lunchbox out of the cupboard and placing special orders for what he wanted to have for lunch. It wasn’t until about 11am that he admitted being a ‘bit nervous’.
But I was surprised about all the other things I wasn’t feeling – dread, fear, panic, sadness – not at all. Just a bit nervous and excited, just like S.
I think that says so much about how far he’s come and how well prepared I felt we were for his start to school. It also says so much about what a brilliant kinder he went to for two years with passionate, inclusive staff. It also says how incredibly lucky we have been over the past 4 years to attend CPEC – especially last year when his therapists worked so hard – and I mean ridiculously hard – to ensure that he would be ready for school and everything would be in place. They were such amazing advocates for his needs and such wonderful support to both of us providing all the know-how and information about equipment, funding, how he could approach classroom activities etc etc. The list could go on and we will be forever grateful.
It was definitely a set back waiting for the funding to be in place, but that was the only setback we’ve had, which is mighty impressive, especially when we know others who have had a much less smooth experience.
The school have been brilliant. Very supportive, very hands on and very open about what they do and don’t know, what they do and don’t want me to do.
I went in on Thursday morning and gave a little PowerPoint presentation to his teacher and aides. The other prep teachers came along, as did the Assistant Principal AND the principal. Now THAT is a sign of a supportive staff! I had planned it to be very much just the basics, and to go for about 15 minutes, but they had so many (great) questions, comments, suggestions that we were there for over an hour. And I left feeling incredibly positive about how the first day would go.
I also put together a letter for the families of all the prep children to introduce S. That should be going out to families on Monday. And I have almost finished an ‘All about me’ book that will live in his classroom and provide more detailed information about such things as how to use his PODD book, Dynavox etc. It will be available for anyone new who comes in and might need to work with S.
Most of the equipment that S will need was in place for the first day. On the ground, the ramp to the classroom is in place, the disabled parking space has been set up, the other (bigger) works around the school are in progress. We had nearly all the little equipment, except for his table (which is height adjustable and has a cut out insert for him to sit at) which we will be getting next week and his new PODD book, which I am expecting any day now.
And so, how was the first afternoon at school?
It went off without a hitch!
At the school’s request, I stuck around. I was happy to do so. It gave me a chance to show them a few things about his PODD book/Dynavox, best seating, transitioning etc etc. I will do the same thing on Monday because a different assistant will be with him that day (he will have two assistants, one working with him 2 days, the other for 3 days).
But mostly, I just sat back. And when I did that, S barely noticed I was there. He didn’t look to me for reassurance or defer to me when someone asked him a question. He joined in all the activities, answered questions, raised his hand, told the other students about his family (with a little help from me) and he loved every minute of it.
He was a little overwhelmed at break time – telling me he was ‘tired’ – when I think he was just overwhelmed by all those children. SO many children. Moving so fast. Some so big. Some so loud. He seemed to be in sheer awe of what is a primary school in action.
But the other kids weren’t shy of him. Several asked what his walker was for and nodded happily and ran off when I gave an answer. And several others just wanted to know his name and if he was one of the new preppies.
It seems like such a lovely school.
I hope I don’t sound too gushy about it all. But I am so thrilled. So happy for S and feeling so confident that he’s going to have a great year – and hopefully beyond.
My big school boy. I can’t believe his first day of school has finally been and gone. And gone so well. I wish I had been given a magic mirror into this day when he was 3 days old and the doctors had taken me into the ‘little room’ to tell me of his injured little brain and of all the things he may or may not grow up to do. I would have seen a future that I could only have dreamed would be so bright after such grim beginnings. I have never, ever been more proud to be a mum.