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Friday, September 9, 2011

What a week!

Well, the first week of school has been interesting.  Gonzalo is doing very well so far.  I have noticed as the summer went on (both while he was in summer school and during our weeks at home afterwards) that he seems to have gained some maturity and is gaining an understanding of the fact that to make friends he has to treat his peers with more respect.  At school so far he has had a really good week.  He has also discovered reading for pleasure, which is something I have been trying to cultivate for him, as I know how great it can be to enjoy, learn from, and lose yourself in books, especially as a stress control method.  I am looking forward to him being in the same classroom with teachers who know him well, know his triggers, know the signs that he is heading for trouble, and know how to work with him to help him keep himself under control so that he can enjoy life, enjoy school, learn, and move forward.  His teachers care, and that is vital to him being able to be successful and grow in positive directions.

Josiah has had a rough start to Kindergarten, as I mentioned in my previous post.  I have had a rough week too, because I know knee-jerk reactions will not help anything, and keeping my head about me when I feel things are not being done in the best way for him.  He is my baby after all.  We had the same types of issues when Gonz went to kindergarten.  Children with special needs present issues in a variety of areas for a variety of reason, not just their primary area of development that dominates their special needs.  And even teachers with some experience with children with special needs have to take time to learn about and adjust to a new child, even if they have had similar children before.  As Kindergarten marks the year when a child goes from the child-centric, super supportive of the individual environment of a special needs preschool (like both Gonzo and Josiah had for their 3-5 year old ages), it is a shock to enter mainstream (or in G's case integrated) public school kindergarten, where it is class-centric, group focused, not focused on how to best educate and support each individual child.  So he needs time to learn how to be an individual that is the member of a group.  The great learned institutionalism that dominates our modern society.  It has its place, but it also alienates people who are amazing, intelligent people, who just do not conform well to the expected tacit rules.  Josiah will adjust, he has a personality that really does want to fit in.  I think it will get easier for him as he gets used to how things work, and I hope that the daily communication between the school and myself will make it easier for them to learn how to help him, and for him to learn how to help himself. 

Starting school each year, especially when the kids are changing schools or dealing with new people who have expectations that the kids need to adjust to, brings me back to my wondering how to help the kids find the balance between being part of a group (institutionalism) and staying true to who they are (individualism).  I have trouble striking the balance sometimes, though am normally successful at it.  My basic core values and the basic expectations of this culture have a lot of overlap, so it is not so difficult.  My father has trouble conforming and fitting in, not so much with the general culture, as he is shining, happy, and in his element when surrounded by college professors, graduate students, and other people of intellectual focus (like when he used to be in groups of my old friends or when he goes and visits my sister -- who is a college professor now).  He more has trouble with this small town, isolated, rural culture that does not have much int he way of intellectual stimulation or philosophical discussion.  So he is fairly reclusive, spending most of his time doing his own things, socially visiting with his few friends who ARE more intellectual in their focus, and reading.  I have been back for two years and have really not established any friends here.  For the same reasons, and for the additional reason of the fact that raising two kids with special needs makes it difficult to cultivate new relationships with people.    How do I help the kids stay secure in themselves, knowing how amazing they are and how incredible they are now and how incredible they can be as they grow and learn, AND help them to find ways to fit in, to look to their peers to learn how to behave in a way that is acceptable to the group mentality, to grow in ways that are respectful to others and seen as respectable as well?  Often, i go back to our ideas of starting our own school, that takes them child-centric focus of the preschools for special needs kids, and implements it in a K-12 school open to ALL children where the gifted and talented and the "regular kids" and the kids with special needs ALL get individual education plans, and can grow and learn together without the regimented institutional quality of the public school system....I need to find a philanthropic investor......

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