I remember my own school days very well and I recall which teachers I really enjoyed and those that never really made the mark with me. Owen's 3's team was amazing and communicated with me almost daily, either at pick up time or through our communication notebook.
But this year in Pre-K, I just feel like something is off. I don't feel like I know much of what he's doing on a daily basis--the teacher prefers to communicate by email, which may be fine for some things, but for immediate information it would be nice to have a quick chat with her at pick up time. Normally one of the aides brings Owen out at pick up and they'll try to give me some insights into the day, but it's just not the same as hearing from the teacher. Whenever the teacher does bring Owen out, she usually has something negative to report: "Owen dumped a bucket of toys out and refused to clean them up." "Owen didn't want to use scissors today and tried to hide under the table." "Owen tried to run away out on the playground." It's gotten to the point that when I see her walking with him, I say to myself, "Oh boy, here we go!"
It's a similar vibe I get from his SLP and OT from school. There just seems to be so little communication from them. I know Owen isn't the easiest client--he doesn't like to use scissors or work on writing or look at a stack of flashcards. But he can work hard if given some incentives and a little bit of a push. He is doing an awesome job in private therapy, so I know he can do what is asked of him.
When we had our first
conference in November, I felt rushed, trying to ask questions about
what Owen is doing and what goals they are working on. So I called for an informal meeting a couple of weeks ago with his teacher just to see where he's at and if there is anything going on that I could help with or that I should know. We talked about his need for sensory breaks (and I found out that they have a sensory room at the school that she isn't even utilizing!) and I gave some pointers on what things work to get Owen motivated (First, then directions; picture schedules; firm/consistent/repeated directions; short work periods with short breaks in between) and what things don't work (stickers, behavior charts, candy/money rewards). I could tell she hadn't even tried these things with Owen, which I just can't understand. These are not new ideas; these are things that special education (and regular education!) teachers have been doing for years, decades and that's because they work. I know they work with Owen because we do them at home.
Yesterday was the straw that broke my back, so to speak. I get an email from his teacher at 4pm that, oh by the way, Owen banged his head on the floor and against a wooden cabinet out of frustration today and I was just too busy to let you know earlier. Uh, banging your head on anything, but especially a concrete floor, is definitely something a parent should be told about and it should be relayed much, much sooner! A blow to the head can cause a little something I like to call a mild concussion, so yeah, I would have liked to know this information so I could have kept an eye on him (luckily he wasn't exhibiting any signs of a concussion yesterday). I was NOT a happy camper in my reply email and although I kept my cool (I wrote it, walked away for a few hours, had the hubs read it, edited it and then sent it before going to bed), I put her on notice and now we are scheduling another meeting to "talk". You can bet I won't be going alone to this one.
So yes, I am frustrated. I am hoping things change as the school year goes on. I really want to trust in the team and to feel that they are doing their best to educate and assist Owen. Part of me wonders if he just hasn't made much of a connection with
them. He seems to really like both classroom aides and he is always
happy to go to school. I don't want this school year to feel like it was a throw away because these early years are important. I don't want to be "that parent" either.....the one the teacher dreads talking to because she feels cornered, threatened, or annoyed, but I don't think I'm asking too much to know how he's doing on a weekly basis or to know some positive things that he is doing because I know he has strengths and has made some progress in some areas. I realize that you aren't going to love every
teacher your kid has; it's just not possible, but if communication is the key, then we need to find a better way.