Giselle officially started school on Monday March 20th, which coincidentally fell on the first day of Spring and it could not have been a more perfection representation of ‘new beginnings’ for us as a family. I wrestled with the idea of having Giselle start preschool this year and regardless of me weighing the pros and cons, I still felt uneasy about the idea of my little girl, who’s non-verbal and filled with anxiety, being at school. However after much consideration and talking to so many individual’s about the school Giselle would be attended, I decided to give it a shot and enrolled little miss Giselle into a public special education school!
Queue the tears!
DAY 1: ROUGH START
We prepared the night before and had everything ready. Dad took the day off and Vienna goes in later to school, so we all made our way to drop Giselle off. I was sure I would be fine, but what I didn’t realize is ALL THE LOVE that was waiting for us at Giselle’s new school. The principal greeted us as we approached the school and gave us the warmest welcome, which was followed by all of the other teachers and staff that stood outside. Granted, most of the teachers were already outside to begin with since they help unload students from the buses, but each one of them made sure to welcome us and expressed their excitement to have Giselle on campus.
If that didn’t hit me in the mama spot, I was able to take her directly to her class were it all just became too real as I saw Giselle’s cubby and name tag all ready to go. That’s when I lost it. Sure I cried out of fear of leaving her, but I think the overwhelming feeling was the deep sense of love and community I could feel as I walked through the corridors. I went into ugly-tear mode as I knew it was time for me to leave her. It was an emotional day, but I knew that I was giving her the opportunity to grow and learn in a new environment.
DAY 2-4: SLOW N’ STEADY
The first 3 days were rough. Although Giselle finally was sleeping well enough to not be grumpy in the morning, our new morning routine was extremely chaotic since there was no one else to help me this time. Giselle was continuing to adjust and although I knew that Giselle was most likely crying incessantly, the teachers reassured me that this wasn’t their first rodeo and that with time, Giselle would adjust. Sure enough on day 4 and with the help of Bruno Mars, Giselle did amazing and actually ate her lunch and sat quietly during circle time. Pretty sure my heart could explode just hearing that!
One awesome thing is that each day, the teacher fills out a daily report card that lets me know what she did during the day and has room for any notes. Each day we have seen progress in her ability to adapt to her new environment and I was excited to see that she was actually cooperating during her time of socialization.
Daily Report Cards
DAY 5: REGRESSION DOESN’T MEAN DEFEAT
If you thought that she would be smiling and dancing by the end of the week, then you just don’t know sassy Giselle! Being slightly pessimistic, I just assumed she would be miserable for a while and eventually come around, which is why I’m not surprised that she had a rough day after such a wonderful day the day prior. It’s all part of the process and it comes with the territory of mixing children and new things. But at the same time, I remain optimistic that this change and all the love and support she’s getting from school will help her turn a corner soon and before I know it she will be in a sweet stride! Well at least this is what I keep telling myself so I don’t lose my mind thinking my poor kid will forever be miserable thanks to me sending her off to school! Overall, I think it’s been an interesting 1st week and now we get to enjoy Spring Break this week and then start completely over once again. YAY!!!
Here is Giselle today after I picked her up today:
Typical preschool with dirty knees, food stains and messy hair, but I wouldn’t have it any other way <3
WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR?
1. No matter what, I’m still in charge!
The biggest reminder to myself is that regardless if my kid is going to school right now, I have the right as her parent to make changes or to pull her out all together if I don’t think it’s a good fit for whatever reason. I understand that not every parents chooses the same school option for their child who needs special education, so my advice to those who currently considering different options is to do what is right for you and your child and know that you are still in charge regardless. What works this year may not work next year so I’m remaining open to change if necessary if it best suites Giselle!
2. Communication bring ease
I get daily report cards, the teachers and principal are easily accessible and there is a great deal of transparency so far. Being able to have such awesome communication with those who are working with Giselle has been confirmation that we made the right decision. There is peace of mind when there’s that type of parent/school relationship. I would advise anyone looking into public or private special education to talk to other parents who go to the school and even ask for a tour of the school in order to get a sense of what the atmosphere is like on campus. Granted, that can’t give you the entire picture, but know that by vocalizing any concerns or worries and observing what the response is from staff and administrators is a great place to start when looking into schools.
3.All new things take time!
I wish I could already have 20 years under my belt so that I would not have to still feel that lump in my throat when I leave Giselle. But everything takes time. Any child, regardless of diagnosis, needs time to adjust to anything new. So in raising a child who’s only 3, who has sensory sensitivity, anxiety and cannot verbalize what is going on – it takes a little bit longer than most, but I believe that kids are resilient and can thrive! So we will take everything slow and steady
Overall, we are a mix of hopeful, excited and a little anxious since we are only a week in BUT we made it!!! We are looking forward to all that’s to come and to continue sharing Giselle’s journey as she starts this new chapter!