Emily started school on August 15th. This will be her third year in preschool. She is in the same classroom with the same teacher and para educator as the previous 2 years. She will have the same speech therapist, occupational therapist and vision interventionist. She will have a new physical therapist, but she isn't really new - it is the same therapist she had her first year. She also has a new para educator in her classroom (there is one teacher and 2 para eds). Two of her classmates are returning with her, but the rest of the kids will be new. Can you believe how tall she is? Here is a similar pose from her first day last year (I guess we have a first day of school theme of a plain shirt with plaid shorts):
She was so excited all morning, I could barely get her to sit still, even during breakfast. She was "dancing" around in her chair. When she gets excited, she extends her whole body and lifts herself right out of her chair (as you can see in the picture below).
And again, a similar picture from last year (this pic makes it a little easier to see the difference in her size):
Can you tell that she gets a bit excited about school? I guess a bunch of kids are more fun than Mom. I hope she always feels this way about school - it goes a long way in helping me to feel better about sending her off on the bus everyday.
Once we left the house, I could not get her to smile no matter what I tried. This year, she gets to ride to school on a brand new bus. This one has air conditioning, which is pretty helpful in Kentucky! She has the same bus driver, but a new bus aide. Both of them are very nice and really make sure that Emily has a great ride to school.
The school year had a slow start. Emily was the only child in the classroom for the first 3 days. Apparently, the kids that were returning didn't get their paperwork in on time. Emily did well with all of the undivided adult attention, but I think she is enjoying herself more now that there are other kids (there are only 4 total right now).
I went to school with her on the first day. Over the summer, Emily got a communication device (I will need to do a separate blog post with the details about that). The staff was not able to get training over the summer, so I went in to show them the basics about the device. The night before school started, I prayed with her before bed (as I usually do). I prayed that she would show her school team how smart and strong she is. Boy did she! Emily was a rock star on her first day! She answered questions and was telling us what she wanted to do. The speech therapist said she wanted to cry watching her communicate for herself (that is exactly how I feel every time I see her using it!).
Each of the kids have a symbol on their mailbox and cubby and their papers that go home. For the past 2 years, Emily had the duck as her symbol. This year she got to choose a new symbol. I had one of the para educators set up a page with 4 options. We picked 3 things that we thought Emily would like and one that we thought she wouldn't like. The para ed asked her which one she wanted and Emily chose the school bus. Since she loves to ride the bus, I had a feeling that she would pick it, but it was nice to see her pick for herself. She said it several times so there was no doubt that is what she really wanted. And you could tell that Emily was proud to be able to speak for herself. It was awesome!
We have some kinks to work out with school. The training for the staff is going slower than I would like, but it is coming along. I continue to pray that Emily will show them all what she can do. She really is a smart cookie! Once she really gets the hang of her communication device, she will be a force to be reckoned with! One of the biggest issues they have with her is her attitude. She wants to do what she wants to do. She doesn't always want to cooperate with their plans. So she keeps them on their toes. I look forward to her growth in the coming year. I know the communication device is going to make a huge difference in how she learns and how she handles herself and look forward to seeing her progress in the coming year.