Saturday, July 28, 2012

Planning for School

Two out of three kiddos are getting ready to go to school!! Wow, it feels so weird just saying that. I mean, we just went from two to three and now two of three are getting ready for school?? Nick and I were not even planning on starting Geri in the fall. We had been planning for her to start school in the winter, due to her difficulties with seperation.

A word on that... Pretty shortly after our new, darling daughter came home, it became pretty apparant that she had accepted us as her mom and dad and that she was NOT willing to let us out of range. Her range, by the way, is very short. For a while, it was maybe 15 feet. At one point it shrank down to about 3 feet. I kid you not, if I was out of arm's reach she went nuts. This was a tough time, because it's hard to have someone need you that close all the time. In my mind I knew it was great because it was a wonderful sign of attaching to her mommy... but in my body I was tired and wanted to be able to walk across the room and get a glass of water without her screaming. I wanted to be able to sit with someone else in my lap without the meltdown. I wanted to pee without an audience. I was worried, in a big way, that we wouldn't get past this to a place of independance and that her clinginess would prevent her from exploring and learning and growing. She had lost so much development already... how much more time would she lose?

Finally, in early June, I saw a shift happening. She was getting better about distance between us. She was wandering the house and exploring her environment. I figured the time had come to start working on her ability to seperate from us in a healthy way. We started with some help from the in-home daycare that watches Mera during Geri's appointments, and we started small. The first day, I literally walked out the front door and stood by the gate for five minutes, then went back in. She was a wreck. But the second time, she did a bit better. And the third, a bit better still. After a few weeks, two times a week, I could leave her for about an hour and she would be fine. She would be okay when I said goodbye, play when I was gone, and greet me happily without a lot of clinginess when I got back.

We decided in July that we would register her for preschool at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Unfortunately, we were too late. Their pre-k class is super small, and it was already booked solid. She is number two on the waiting list. The director of the program offered to put her in the kindergarten, since they have larger classes and she turns 5 during the school year, but I'm not interested in doing that. I think she needs a year of pre-k (at least one) to get up to speed with some basic concepts and her expressive language skills.

At first, I was kinda bummed, because that meant she would have to go up to Denver to the Anchor Center for pre-k. That's a lot of driving, and a lot of gas money. But mainstreaming her was not an option in my mind... we had seen what the district had to offer and I didn't feel it was enough. Plus, the IEP process had left an icky taste in my mouth.

But she is now registered at Anchor for pre-k, and I'm feeling very good about it. We've been participating in the summer pre-k program. It's lighter and less structured, but it's given me an idea how the pre-k program will work and I like it.  I also think it's a good thing that the program only meets three days a week. This lets her ease into schooling, without it being a shock to her system. I know all the teachers and I trust them completely. I know they are going to work with her and teach her and help her and be patient with her and protect her and care for her and all those other things we need to hear when one of our little birds starts their flying lessons! Best of all, she knows everyone and she knows the building. Anchor is a safe place full of safe people, and what better way to start her out than feeling safe?

Her name is still on the list at CSDB, so if a slot opens up then we can move her down. And the folks at Anchor know this and are totally fine with it. If nothing comes up at CSDB, or we don't feel like she can handle the move, then she'll do a year of pre-k at Anchor and we'll decide if she needs another year or can go straight to kindergarten. Either way, we'll probably move her to CSDB for the second year. I'll make sure to call earlier next year to register her!

She starts in just a few weeks, and I'm so excited. I think that's the most amazing part of all... I'm not scared. I'm thrilled!! She's such a smart girl, and I want to see her learn and grow like I know she can. She lost so much time in the orphanage, but she is very quick to learn and I know she has such an incredible amount of potential. I'm looking forward to seeing her change and grow. She's already amazed us at every turn with how smart and resilient she is.

Please pray for us, as we prepare for school. Pray that she will handle the seperation well. Pray that we'll keep ends meeting with the increased expense of the gas money. Pray for me and Mera, that we can enjoy some alone time together and bond a bit closer. Most of all, pray that God will bring out in her what has been hidden. That her talent and intelligence and personality will be revealed more every day!

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