Clare had her first day of school yesterday. The day before, we went to the playground at Clare's school with friends. The teachers were busy getting their classrooms ready. While we were there, Clare's special education teacher from last year saw us sitting by the playground, so she came over. She shared with me the news that she was no longer the special education teacher for the school, but had her own second grade classroom instead. I was a little shocked. (This doesn't warrant a phone call over the summer to introduce us to the new special ed teacher? Apparently not.) So now the night before Clare begins school, I am worried that the new special ed teacher does not know Clare, does not know the IEP, does not know what is going on. And this is another big year for Clare since she is doing a transition year - morning kindergarten and afternoon first grade. Add in lunch, new IEP goals, and a new schedule. A schedule developed just for Clare, a rare occurrence in the school, and not something that will necessarily go smoothly in the beginning since there are so many people involved. And now a new special education teacher? So I was a little freaking out (to put it mildly).
That afternoon, I took Clare to her first grade orientation. I had 30 minutes in which I planned to meet her first grade teacher, chat with the new special education teacher, introduce myself to the new nurse (yet another new person on Clare's team since the old school nurse transferred), walk Clare through the lunchtime routine, and get information on the pick-up procedure. We met her new first grade teacher (super nice, very young, and enthusiastic), Clare saw some of her former classmates, and that was it. The 30 minutes were done, orientation was over, and we had to leave to pick up Jamie from school. So now I was a little more than just freaking out.
Clare, on the other hand, was counting down the days to her first day of school, especially since Jamie had started school the previous week. She was so excited the night before school started (and cried when we left her orientation because she wanted to stay). We packed her new pink backpack, planned her snack and lunch menu (and went over again and again that snack was for snack and lunch for lunch and never the two shall meet!), and gathered all her school supplies. She helped lay out her clothes for the morning, and Clare was ready. I am so grateful that Clare did not seem to have half the trepidation that I had about this new school year. I believe she was a little nervous when we first arrived at orientation because she wanted to hold my hand the whole time (not something she usually wants to do in a crowd - she usually wants to be out socializing, especially since she saw lots of friends). But she quickly overcame her nervousness once she saw her first grade classroom and got to sit at a desk. And now that the night before school starting was finally here, Clare was a bundle of eagerness for it all to begin.
Clare woke up at 5am (and I convinced her to lay down in the guest room for another hour before I was functional). Jamie did not have school yesterday, so the entire family was able to bring Clare to school. The joy on her sweet face was contagious. She just could not wait. Before school started, we were able to meet the new special education teacher, which eased a lot of my anxiety. We found out that Clare will have the same aide all day. I still want to meet with the nurse, but we're planning on setting up a team meeting in a couple weeks to review what's working and what's not. Even though we've been over the plan with Clare multiple times, I think she was a little confused that she was lining up with kindergarten again (especially since she saw her friends from last year going somewhere else), but she had a big hug for her kindergarten teacher. She waved eagerly at us from the line, and off she went.
The rest of our day was chock-full (it is always good to keep busy on days like this!). Simon had his preschool orientation that morning as well. I left Violet with Shawn (who was working from home), and took Simon to his school, along with Jamie and Eliza. Simon went home from orientation with a friend, so Jamie, Eliza, and I went out to lunch. I never get to go out with just Jamie (and Eliza slept the whole time, so she was a quiet third wheel), and we had a great time together. Then we came home, played Clue, woke Violet up from her nap, and it was time to pick up Clare.
The nerves came back walking up the sidewalk to the pick-up area. I know it was silly because what was done was done, but I just wanted my girl to have had a great first day. She had been looking forward to this day for weeks. Her class was one of the last classes out of the building, so after what seemed like forever, we finally saw the class. Clare was so tiny next to her classmates, and she did look tired. But she had a big smile on her face when she saw us, and we were greeted with huge hugs. We lingered to talk with the first grade teacher while Clare and her siblings went on the playground. Miss R said Clare had a fantastic day. She came into the first grade during circle time and transitioned beautifully, sitting down quietly and joining right in. Lunch went well, and Clare loved going to the library in the afternoon (which was the first grade special that day). Clare told us all about the library ("I even went to the bathroom in the library!"), but that was the extent of the information we got out of her. She was tired (and had a little cry when we told her it was time to leave the playground), but not the meltdown, non-functioning exhaustion like I had prepared myself for. She enjoyed seeing her brothers and sisters again ("I missed you, Jamie!" she proclaimed). Once Simon came home from his friend's house, Clare helped Shawn make pizzas and we had a pizza-movie family night.
So the first day went better than I expected. I will never be satisfied with the amount of information that Clare is able to impart to us, but I know she had a good day, her teachers were enthusiastic about her day, and Clare was disappointed when she woke up this morning to find out it was Saturday. I pray next week is just as wonderful!