Thursday, June 10, 2010

Whoa...Slow Down!!!

It recently occurred to me that my babies are going to be SIX next month!!! No flippin way! Get out of town! I cannot believe it. Six just seems so...old.

I have ONE more day of work before my glorious summer vacation. The girls have 2 more days of preschool, then their end of year picnic next Wednesday (which they missed last year because they were sick). This time, it really is the end of preschool and it brings a little tear to my eye. They will never be preschoolers again. Soon, fall will come, and they will be in kindergarten, then first grade, then next thing you know they will be in middle school, then graduating from high school, then maybe college and adulthood and on to the rest of their lives... Whoa...SLOW down!

I did kindergarten registration and orientation, and we had our IEPs (3 hours...not bad). Everything went fine with no major glitches...thanks in large part to Holland and Eden's awesome special education preschool teacher who coordinated their meetings for the past 2 years.

We were really, really lucky to have participated in the preschool program that we did. The staff both years were just wonderful and did such a good job of meeting the girls needs and including Eden in the gen ed setting as much as possible. I am so appreciative to them, and to Eden's one-on-one aide who really loves her and does such a good job with her. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with my kids. I stressed out a bit at the beginning of last year, because not only was it their first year of school, it was also the first time that I had to entrust anyone outside of my family with their care. This year was a total breeze because I didn't have to get used to a whole new system.

Next year might be a little bit tricky. They are changing buildings, and will be working with a whole new group of people. Everyone will be different. Except for possibly, hopefully, Eden's aide who would like to follow her to kindergarten. If that happens (and I am REALLY hoping it will), I will actually be pretty relaxed about the transition. The good news is that I have met all the new people (except for the teacher who is retiring) and I get good vibes. I think it's going to be great experience for my girls.

I am super glad that we made the decision to keep the girls back an extra year. Based on their age they could have started K last year, but I just felt better about waiting until age 4 to start preschool, and still giving them two years to prepare for kindergarten. They were really not ready for a school setting (in many ways, but mostly still ending up in the hospital with simple colds) at age 3, and neither was I. Now, they will be two of the older kids in their kindergarten class rather than the youngest. We have enough challenges and delays without that added in, and we are ALL a lot more ready.

The girls have grown up A LOT this year, not just physically, but cognitively and emotionally as well. Academically I think they are well prepared for kindergarten. They know all of their letters and sounds and both are reading at a kindergarten level (Eden is probably at an early first grade level). They count objects, recognize numbers, and understand simple math concepts (Holland is doing especially great with addition and subtraction). Eden has pretty much caught up to Holland in terms of conversational language skills and the concepts that she is able to verbalize and understand at home. They each have different strengths and weaknesses, but both are making progress all the time.

Holland had a great year with a LOT less tears. She used to cry a lot at school when it was time to transition between activities (she never wants the fun to end), but now she is much better at following the classroom routine. She has also gotten a lot better at engaging her peers and playing with the other kids (rather than ONLY digging in the dirt by herself). She still needs to work on starting and completing her work independently and efficiently. She tends to work slowly and gets distracted easily. Not a good combination. She needs a lot of reminders to keep working and stay on track, but overall she responds to redirection pretty well and is a really sweet lovable kid!

Eden does a great job of staying focused and on track with her school work. She loves to do all types of art projects and works diligently to complete them. She knows the routine at school and is very focused. Our major issue has been getting her to speak up. She talks all the time at home. Honestly, we can't shut her up (not that we would want to). But at school, or in any place where there is a lot of background noise or commotion, she is really, really quiet. She pays attention and absorbs everything around her like a little sponge, and will even tell me about it later, but she doesn't do much talking. When she does talk, it tends to be to adults in a quieter one-to-one setting. For instance, she talks nonstop to her aide every time they go to the bathroom! Ms. Jess tells me that Eden starts talking as soon as the bathroom door closes:-) We think that a large part of the problem is that she has a harder time hearing in the classroom environment, and has to really focus to weed out the background chatter and sounds in the room, from who is talking and what is important to listen to. Another issue is that her voice is still pretty soft (though a lot louder than this time last year) and the kids don't take the time to pay attention and listen carefully to what she has to say. So, she just doesn't like to talk to them much because they don't understand her! She does best with kids who are calm and like to sit and have tea parties or pretend play with stuffed animals, rather than kids who like to go, go, go, and there just happen to be a lot of the latter kinds of kids in her class this year. They are cute and sweet, but seem to be a lot busier than last year's group!

Overall, the girl's preschool experience has been really positive, and I have great expectations for next year. We are just starting the process of getting our house ready to put on the market, but because we have had such a positive experience with the special education staff in our school district, I am kinda hoping to stay in the same area.

Turns out this is a pretty good place to raise a kid with a disability.


Anonymous said...

I just clicked over from Keyboard Revolutionary and spent ... oh, like 80 minutes on your blog. I so enjoyed reading about your family. You seem like you have so much fun together and I loved reading your detailed observations about your girls' personalities and abilities. I just wanted to drop you a note and say how much I enjoyed my visit. I hope your beautiful, happy family has a GREAT day tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Amen to that -- we love Plym-Canton for kids like ours!! So glad that the next transition went/is going so well!!!


Katy said...

I so love this post, Billie! Your girls are doing so wonderfully and it makes me feel so hopeful about what my own child might be able to accomplish one day. Not to mention the over-the-top cuteness, which is just good for my well-being.

Anonymous said...

Wow SIX?? That went by quickly!!

K said...

I'm just catching up after not having time for blog reading and so much has happened. The girls look so much older, especially with their adorable haircuts. The new tricycle looks amazing and I'm amazed at how well she rides.

Kindergarten! Where did the time go?

I'm sorry that Operation Feed Yourselves did not go well. You stuck it out long enough to give them a fair chance. I may have asked this before, but will they feed each other?

Any thoughts again of another baby? You are such a great mom!

BusyLizzyMom said...

It is pretty crazy how old they are now, 6 seems so old. We made the same decision to hold Elizabeth back as well and she will be entering SK instead of grade 1. I think this decision will make a huge difference in the lives of our children. To be the youngest and to have so many challenges r/t to their prematurity having them as the youngest is unfair and setting them up for endless frustration.
Holland sounds like Elizabeth, she also gets pretty stuck with the sensory stuff and needs reminders to be aware of her peers and leave the dirt/pebbles for some social time.
Have you tried an FM unit for Eden? We found it made a huge difference for Elizabeth, with her hearing impairment she also gets lost in noisy environments and shuts down. The FM unit allows her be aware of what is happening at the same time as her peers usually she would be left behind because she cannot hear in a noisy setting. Her teacher who wears it can cue Elizabeth when her peers are talking which is great.
I am sure the girls will transition great, it is the Mommies who often have the hard time.

Claire said...

How exciting to be starting kindergarten!

I was going to suggest on FM unit too. Here is a story about a little boy (elephant) getting one.

Here is a really good nlog about 2 kids with bilateral CIs, their mom, has a lot of experience advocating for them in school.

Inky Ed is another great blog about advocationg for kids with disabilities in schools.

Have a good summer

Billie said...

Hey thanks for the comments! Eden's PS classroom does have an FM system, and she will have one next year in K too:-)

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

Great post. I love the way that you describe the girls personalities. It makes me feel like I know them. They are going to do great next year. So glad to hear all went well with the IEP and the staff that you have been able to meet is great. Your girls are so inspiring! My daughter is about to start preschool in the fall and I am nervous, but I also know it will be so good for her.

Anonymous said...

Wow you have one remarkable little family. I got curious and decided to look up preemies, just so happened to end up at your blog like the person before me I've spent some time reading 3 hours to be exact. You have such amazing miracles. Holly & Eden look so great. Never would of guessed they were so tiny once before. :)