So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1:45

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Days

Yesterday's post was written on Monday. I was very frustrated. And, unfortunately, that hasn't changed.

On Tuesday afternoon, I think I reached the point where I was just done. Tuesday night was parent orientation. I think that was when Hubby decided he was done too.

After bringing her home on Tuesday afternoon, I went to the national facebook group for our virtual school and asked for specifics from anyone who had done or was doing the kindergarten program. Several people responded and answered my questions with detailed descriptions. After reading that, Hubby felt a little better about possibly switching her to that program.

At the parent orientation, we got a little more info from the principal about general policies then headed to the classrooms (it was a 'no kids' meeting). Rugrat's teacher began explaining their schedule and talking about all the little ways they had for dealing with behavior, the bathroom, lunches, everything they had to do.

At one point during that, I thought, "This woman is delusional." I knew there was no way that Rugrat could keep up with her.

She talks very fast for one thing -- Rugrat can speak pretty quickly but she isn't yet processing what she hears quickly. I think people tend to assume that one is indicative of the other though and she ends up missing what they say. Or by the time she processes it, they have moved on and are talking about other things.

The other thing her teacher does is use a lot of, for lack of a better word, slang. Perhaps colloquialisms might be better. Her words are often very 'cutesy.' That's all well and good for kids who understand that and I'm sure a flare for the dramatic helps keep the kids attention. But Rugrat doesn't have that kind of stuff down yet. She still learning normal English words.

So what I think may be happening is her good old self-defense mechanism kicking in. For the first 24 hours we had her in China, she shut down. Not dramatically -- she still ate and cooperated and had no issues with her bodily functions. But she didn't interact at all.

Hubby and I even discussed the possibility that she might be autistic on that second day. She was so completely zoned out that entire time. The only time we ever got a glimpse at something underneath was sleeping times. She knew that hotel bed was not HER bed and she threw a screaming fit about being made to go to sleep in it.

After she decided we were safe and apparently she would be with us a few days, she opened up and started to play and speak to us. While that kind of shut down is gone, she will still sometimes 'go to her happy place' in a chaotic or confusing environment.

Like, say, one where she can't keep up with what is being said and there might be a lot of noise or distraction (they have three 'centers' that they rotate around to in the classroom). So my guess is that she simply sits there in her happy place, la dee dahing and waiting for the next recess or something that catches her attention.

On Wednesday, she brought home her binder which has a place for her daily behavior number. While it wasn't negative, it did hint that she had not been focusing on what they were doing. That was further confirmed by a passing comment from the teacher yesterday afternoon.

There is one final issue too. Rugrat can handle a lot of things as long as she has a basic routine. For instance, we can go anywhere or do anything during the day as long as we hit the benchmarks of the day -- meals, getting dressed, teeth brushing, bath, story, bed, etc. for example. It is now a lot more flexible than it used to be. Even last year, she would tell us, almost to the minute, that it was bedtime at bedtime.

While her classroom has a schedule, it isn't routine. About the only things that seem to be are recess and lunch. Guess what the only two things we've heard from her that they do all day are? In fact, until Tuesday afternoon, when I tried to go through her day from drop off until pickup with her, that was all she'd been able to tell us. On Tuesday, I finally got out of her that they looked at cards with pictures of animals on them in addition to lunch and playground.

That's also probably the reason she hasn't had her lunchbox with her since the first day. On the second day, the teacher moved the place where they were supposed to put them and she hasn't brought it home since. We've been switching them out. She'll carry one and lose it that day and I find the previous days somewhere in the building while dropping her off or looking for that day's. The woman told her it would be in one spot and that's where she takes it. We can't get her to understand that it has been moved because she needs the stability of that one routine established day one.

As an aside:  Frankly, I think they could stand to have a stricter routine period without so much going with the flow. Hubby and I both think they have pretty high expectations for those kids (I've been accused of expecting too much from mine a lot just for having any expectations so for me to say so should raise a flag). They're only 5 years old but the teachers seem to think they are little adults. We were even told by the principal to help her memorize her student ID number now which seems just a little crazy to me.

Of course, this is all what I THINK is happening. I may change my opinion as I observe more. But, anyhow, on Wednesday, we filled out paperwork to enroll her in the virtual academy. I think we both came to the same conclusion that this wasn't going to work for her finally. We tried to give it a whole week but now I'm just hoping I'll be able to withdraw her by next week.

Waiting for the wheels to turn and the process to complete is excruciating. And there is a slight possibility that it can be denied (if that happens, I think we'll be home schooling in the traditional sense). I can't withdraw her until it's official because of truancy issues. But I feel like she's just getting babysitting and nothing more there at this point.

And even as the week completes, I see absolutely nothing that convinces me otherwise. She goes only to play on the playground with the other kids. I am hoping that one on one instruction in a stable relaxed environment will give her what she needs to learn.

 I'm still quaking in my boots at trying to teach her to read but I'm also excited about the possibility and can't wait to get started. We had kind of assumed that she would be doing this at some point anyway. It's just such a wonderful curriculum and we all love it.

And, possibly, in a few years she will have dealt with those issues and be able to 'go with the flow' a little better if we decide to go back to a classroom setting. I know some kids are just wired in such a way that they can't deal with that well. But we have seen in only this past two years how intelligent she is and how quickly she has adjusted to a very different way of life. I feel certain that time is all she really needs (and someone who gets her).

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