School starts for Cordy on Wednesday, and this year will be very different for her. For the past two years, she’s attended our district’s special needs preschool, a half-day program. She’s had the same teacher, a woman to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for all she’s done for Cordy. But Cordy turns five in a few weeks, and is really too old to continue in the half-day program.
Cordy’s preschool teacher pulled a lot of strings to get Cordy placed in a special needs pre-K classroom on the other side of Columbus. We all agreed she wasn’t ready for kindergarten, and her teacher assured us that this class was the perfect fit for Cordy. We got to meet her new teacher a week ago, and while Cordy was very hesitant to meet her, it was a pleasant meeting.
Her new classroom is twice as large, with additional resources like an indoor swing and a trampoline. She’ll still have one teacher, but now two aides in the classroom, even though the class size remains at eight kids. They work closely with the kindergarten class, and should Cordy show a lot of progress in the first half of the year, she might get to visit the kindergarten for a few hours each week in the second half of the year.
Ms. K seems like a great teacher. She’s thrilled to have a girl in the classroom this year, and I heard one of the aides already contemplating buying hair ties to play with Cordy’s hair. They’re also open to parents volunteering in the class. I’m planning to volunteer when I can, depending on my work schedule.
I worry about how all of this change will affect Cordy. I hope for an easy transition, even though deep down I know the chances of any transition being easy for her are slim. This will be a new school, a new classroom, new friends, a new teacher, a new routine, and a new bus. Unlike last year, she’ll be there for a full school day, too. She’ll also be riding the bus for an hour and a half each way, meaning she’ll be spending 75% of her awake time away from us during the week. That’s a lot of time away.
I’m preparing for epic bad behavior from her in return. On the upside, at least we only have to see it 25% of the time, right?
My real hope is that her adjustment period is shorter than it has been before. That she quickly adapts to the new routine and is happy with her class, her school, her teacher and her new friends. I want her to come home each day tired but happy from learning new things, being pushed just-far-enough, and enjoying her class.
And one small confession: I’ll admit to being a little relieved at full-day school. Cordy is a joy to be around, and one of two small-yet-brilliant lights in my life, but she can also be trying. Very trying. I appreciate our time together, but I also appreciate our time apart — needing that break from the daily juggle of giving her what she needs while trying to meet the needs of everyone else in our house, too.
She’ll be fine. It’ll all go well. (And yes, I know starting school is hard for many kids, but like everything else, Cordy seems to take the transition far harder than the average kid.) We just need to get through the first hard days.
And thank you all for your comments on my health care reform post. I’m thrilled that not a single comment was negative. (Proof we can have civil discussions about health care, or were the opponents just busy last week?)
For those who support charities, I wanted to let you know that I’m once again participating in Walk Now for Autism, and this year I’m hoping to raise twice as much money as I did last year for autism research and education. If you’d like to donate to my walk, you can do so directly through the Walk Now website.