Sunday, April 29, 2012

little man

I have been putting off blogging.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's the fact that there are 22 days of school left and I'm feeling overwhelmed with everything I need to get done.  Or maybe it is the fact that I have a certain little boy who will be graduating from preschool next week.  I have so many posts swirling around in my head... about his recent success in school, his conferences, his IEP meeting we had for Kindergarten.  Then there's his upcoming spring sing and preschool graduation.  I just have so many emotions about all of this that I want to do it justice.  And honestly, I'm not sure where to start.  So...more on this topic will be coming soon, but for today, I wanted to share some fun things about my little man, who is not so little anymore...
Spring school pictures

He has just been doing the cutest things lately.  He is growing up so much.  I was just looking at some pictures and watching videos from him at Christmas and he has changed so much just since then.  One of his favorite "big boy" things to do these days is look at books and read them by himself.   Of course, he loves us to read to him too.  But he will sit for a long, long time just looking at pictures and retelling the story in his own words.  I just love to listen to him do this.  I don't post videos much anymore, but this one is worth the watch.  His sweet little voice...I love how he asks me to read it to him at the end.  I wish I had taken actual pictures, but he sounded so precious, I just kept the video going (pause the music at the bottom before playing video)...

The other day it was so cute, he got quiet upstairs as I was fixing dinner so I snuck up there to see what he was up to.
I caught him playing "school!"  He had all his little stuffed animals lined up and had a pointer and was teaching them!
He said, "who wants to be the song helper?"  Ha!  It was the cutest thing ever.  Then he picked a song and started dancing!
Then he had them all go to "centers" and get their work books.  The funny thing is, I used to do this when I was a kid.  Playing school was one of my favorite things to do!  
He is just amazing me with what he can write these days.  The other day he came home from school with the whole alphabet written on a piece of paper!
I was pretty impressed (although he must have gotten tired since he left out y and z!  Ha!)
His teacher called me over when I went to pick him up and she was all excited to tell me something.  She brought me over to his folder for conferences and showed me something pretty cool.  In January, he knew no letter sounds.  Well, he knew a few, but only in order.  He couldn't isolate them.  She assessed him last week, and he now knows 21 letter sounds!  I was so amazed and I just teared up because he has been working so hard!  In January he only knew 10 lowercase letters- now he knows them all.  It is just amazing how much he's learned in such a short time.  Not only does he know all his letters and most sounds, he can also spell quite a few words on his own.  I just can't believe we are at that "Mommy, how do you spell ______?" phase where he writes down the letters and wants to spell words.  

It makes me think it could have something to do with the FM system he is using at school.  They attach to his hearing aids and they amplify the voice of whoever has the microphone, in most cases, the teacher.  I am pretty sure this has worked wonders for him.  I am so grateful to our school district and all the people involved in working with him for discovering that this would be a huge benefit to him.
Every day he comes home with pictures from school.  I always ask him to tell me about them.  This one was the "Waterhorse" from the movie he is currently obsessed with!  Ha!
(This is what he was doing when I wanted to take his picture!  Ha!)  This picture is of "alligator and his friends."  He colored it and then drew his own alligators below.
He was excited about their unit on "The Hungry Caterpillar."  He came home and retold me the whole story.  Several times.

Last week we had our big IEP meeting at his new "Kindergarten school" (as we call it).  I was shocked  and proud to learn that they will be dropping his academic goal from his IEP!  Yay!  I remember so well back when he was three and we started his IEP.  I remember freaking out about it because...let's face it.  I'm a teacher.  I know what an IEP is for.  It is considered "Special Education."  No matter how you look at it.  This time I found myself on the other side of the table wondering if I wanted my child to grow up with that "stigma."  Sad that he was discrepant and "different" enough to qualify for one, yet grateful for the help that he would receive.  I remember them telling us, when he's five and starts kindergarten, he may not qualify for one anymore, may not need one, or we could always change our minds at that time.  So we signed the papers.

This graph really stuck out to me.  The green is where he was in January at his last IEP review.  The "E" is emerging, the - is that he cannot perform the task and the +/blue is that he met the goal.  Check out the right side now!  He is either emerging or has met every single thing on the list.  I was amazed it has only been 4 short months!

Well, he's now ready for that step.  And he doesn't need one anymore.  At least not in the way we thought he might.  He'll still have an IEP, but it will only consider his needs related to his hearing and speech/communication.  Signing those papers turned out to be the best thing we could have ever hoped for.   Not only did he have the best preschool teacher in the country (I'm not kidding... she is awesome and we are so sad to leave her!), but he also got used to the idea of "school" much earlier than most kids.  

He's been riding a school bus for 2 1/2 years now.  I'm pretty sure he won't be the one clinging to my leg in tears on the first day of Kindergarten.  He knows the routine.  He knows what to do at circle time, and center time.  He is an experienced school goer.  And he is successful because of it.  So because of his "disability," he has received some amazing services, and has gotten to know some pretty awesome teachers that have worked with him along the way.  Every time we attend an IEP review, everyone always says the best things about our son.  They all love him.  It just makes me want to burst with pride.

When we walked into this meeting, it seemed so different than the ones before.  It was at his new school.  There were many new faces (principal, kindergarten teacher, speech pathologist, etc) but thankfully, some old ones we recognized that gave us that warm smile and reminded us of how much they love our son.  It was so comforting to hear those things.  Basically, they told us how well he is doing.  They updated his IEP, removing all academic services, and added the use of the FM system, and a health plan (related to his heart condition so everyone would know about it and what his very short list of limitations might be).

Simple as that.

My baby is ready for Kindergarten.

The other day in the car, he asked me something and I responded and called him "baby" in the sentence somewhere.  He looked at me and replied amongst some giggles... "I'm not a baby!"

You'll always be my baby, Andrew.  No matter what.

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