Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer School

Clare is starting her third week of summer school, and she is loving the routine again. However, the first day was rough, to say the least. This summer, we chose to have Clare take the bus both to and from school. I knew that would be easier on me this summer rather than getting five kids out of the house every morning at 8am. Plus Clare loved riding the bus when she was in preschool. So I thought this was a great plan! It didn't work out as planned that first day.

Clare came off the bus crying. First, she arrived home 45 minutes after school ended, and we literally live two minutes from the school, so she was overheated from being on the un-air-conditioned bus for that long. Second, she thought her beloved kindergarten teacher was going to be her teacher for summer school (because we had told her that Mrs. D would be her teacher again next year, and Clare has a hard time with distinctions, so to her mind, this was next year), so it was a big let-down to have someone completely new. Third, her IEP states she is not allowed to be outside on the playground in heat and humidity, and as it was a 80+ degree day, her teacher kept her in the classroom while the rest of the class went outside. (Clare claims she sat and did nothing during this period, which I doubted.) And, fourth, not only was the bus hot, but Clare didn't understand why it was taking so long to get home, so she was worried that the bus driver was lost. Apparently, she kept repeating this and saying she just wanted to go home, and the bus driver "yelled" at her to stop crying.

Of course, all this sent me into a panic, and my first instinct was, That's it, Clare does not really need to go to summer school does she? My second instinct was, No, she DOES need summer school, she needs the routine, but I will just drive her to and from school each day. Shawn reminded me that Clare had a rough night's sleep and was up super-early in the morning (being excited about school), so she was exhausted to begin with, and he convinced me that Clare needed to try again and that we would get to the bottom of all this.

Clare and I had a pep talk the following morning that she would give the bus another try. She cheerily boarded the little bus, and I waited anxiously as the hours passed. Meanwhile, Shawn contacted the bus company and spoke to them to find out what happened on the ride home. It was a lot of sorting out the best route to get the multiple children home, and the bus did not even leave the school until 15 minutes past dismissal. I spoke with the driver personally when she dropped Clare off (it's a different driver coming and going). She did have a loud voice, but seemed very sweet and friendly with Clare. She also had horrible directions from the school to our house, so I gave her the most direct route (and now it takes ten minutes from school dismissal to when Clare arrives at our driveway). After school, Shawn spoke with Clare's summer school teacher about the playground. He gave permission for Clare to play on the playground as long as she's only out there for a brief period of time (and it's not over 90 degrees). The teacher explained that Clare stayed inside to blow bubbles and was able to choose a friend to stay inside with her. We knew Clare's view of the day would be slightly skewed (she still has trouble with storytelling), but it did make me feel better that, although Clare perceived the situation to be terrible, neither the bus driver nor her teacher did anything I could fault them for.

When these situations occur, my mother bear kicks in (more so with Clare than the other kids), and I have to remember not to make rash decisions based on my initial gut reaction. Such as foregoing summer school all together based on the first day. Day two and on have gone great, and Clare is enjoying school.

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