Part of the challenge of starting a new job has been childcare. I’m training on day shift for all of April, and while Mira’s preschool has flexible drop-off and pick-up times, Cordy’s school has a specific start and end. If someone isn’t home when her bus stops at our house, she isn’t let off. (And serious consequences happen at that point.) Right now, no one can be home at that time.
Last week was Spring Break, so we had a little time to find a contingency plan. The solution was latchkey, a program in the school designed to allow working parents to drop their children off early in the morning and/or stay late after school. Latchkey has teachers to provide activities, snacks and supervision for kids of all ages. There was an opening in her school’s latchkey, so with the (cautious) recommendation of her teacher, we signed her up, and her first day was Monday.
I was worried about how it would work out. When we met with the latchkey teacher, I explained Cordy’s issues and ways to work around her challenging behaviors. The teacher explained that as long as Cordy could follow the basic instructions and rules of latchkey, she would do fine. But that was my worry: sometimes the most basic rules are the hardest for her to follow.
Aaron reported that when he dropped her off Monday morning, she was a little resistant to going to the gymnasium and not her classroom. She didn’t want to put her backpack in the designated basket when she knew it belonged on her hook in her classroom across the hall. I hoped the afternoon wouldn’t bring a bad report and have us one step closer to looking for another childcare option.
That afternoon the teacher told us she did well. She had trouble in the afternoon during “homework time” and asked if we could bring in some activity books or coloring books to keep her occupied. No problem – Cordy will spend hours working on an activity book if allowed.
The second day is often harder than the first, but to our surprise Tuesday morning went smoothly. She put her backpack in the basket and didn’t complain at all. In the afternoon, the report was even better. The teacher said Cordy helped her set up the snack table for all of the kids, and was happy to work on her activity book during homework time. Her classroom teacher also said Cordy had a great day at school, too.
I think this might just work.
But school will be out for the summer in less than two months. So my thoughts have turned to summer camp. Trying to find a summer camp that is affordable and will accept Cordy isn’t an easy task. We could send her to the camp she attended last year, but it’s very expensive and the fast-paced schedule for her age group would likely be too much for her to handle. And let’s not even mention the daily swim lessons – I don’t want to relive that nightmare again.
I’m currently researching two summer camps for Cordy. One is a camp for children with varying levels of special needs (kids without special needs are welcome too), with therapists present to help with anything she might need. No worries about her being kicked out. The other is a mainstream Montessori that appears to be welcoming to children with special needs and could be a great way for us to evaluate a different curriculum method for her.
I’m so proud of how hard Cordy works to fit into the world around her. On a very basic level, she’s beginning to understand that she’s not like many kids, and I think it bothers her. Latchkey is just the beginning of introducing her to more mainstream opportunities, and it could be the next link in getting closer to Cordy being fully mainstreamed.
I hope this just might work.