My feelings about boy-o's school are swinging widely at the moment, to how good they are, to how could they let that happen, to yes - thank you for that, to doom...
I'm worried now that next year might be our first year with a teacher for boy-o who doesn't get him. Which as it's his first year in full time education may be a disaster. It was when the words 'well all children do that', left her mouth that I realised she really didn't get it!
Her biggest concern... is health and safety. He chews things and puts them in his mouth, and oh my goodness he might choke! To which I explained about his chewy and how to recognise the signs, and all she said was 'well he's choked in nursery'. And whilst I recognise she has a valued reason for concern, this is easy to sort... watch him first, find out if he is putting things in his mouth, and then work out a plan of action. I know you want them to have freedom to choose things, but surely it's not that hard! If I tell you he's had a bad night, make sure he has something he can chew. If I tell you he's feeling unsettled today, make sure he has something to chew.
She calmly told me that one of their first topics that they study is the family, I commented that boy-o might find this difficult...to which I was told 'well you're his family'... umm yes, but not his only family. If you are talking about people that are important and have looked after him, you are just as likely to hear about his foster parents, as us. If you talk about been a baby, he will talk about his birth mother... and call her such - which might confuse some others in the class.
We talked about his need to be able to know everything... she didn't get it.... well if we put him round this corner, it's quieter and he'll be able to focus more.....no, he will worry about what everyone else is doing, because he will hear the noise but not know what is causing it. We talked about the fact he has a mild avoidant style attachment, and he will keep it together all day at school, but rage when we get to the car/home.... 'that's really common in children of his age' Yes, you often see 4 year olds, hitting, kicking, biting, laying on the floor screaming for 20 to 30 mins.
We talked about his ability to choose dinner, 'it'll be fine' apparently, all he has to do is choose in the morning, whether he wants the meat option, the veggie option or jacket potato, stick his name on the right colour and then he'll be given a band as they walk down to dinner, so the dinner ladies will know what he's chosen! So he has to choose as we arrive at school, when there are lots of other people around, and he'll want to play, and then he has to find his name (and recognise it) and stick it on the correct coloured board (he doesn't do colours). Then 3 hours later when they go down for lunch, he'll be given a band to wear, and given his main meal, and vegetables, then asked to choose his pudding. Not going to be a success I fear - never-the-less we will play it their way for a while.
We talked about transitions; and how difficult he finds it - which of course lead to another of the 'all children struggle' comments. To which I felt like saying, yes, but he finds it harder than most, and will take longer to trust you as a reliable adult.
I asked about photos of the classroom and the adults he will be dealing with. It should have been in our welcome pack, and I don't think she believed me when I said it wasn't. I have a horrid, horrid feeling that she listened to what she wanted to hear, and put her spin on it, rather than actually listening. She gave me a talk about over anxious parents, and how half the things we worry about don't come to anything.
I wonder if half the problem is, that she knows it all about adoption. After all her niece and nephews were adopted.... but on the recommendation of their social worker they weren't told that they were adopted until they were teenagers...I suspect from her age (she's been teaching at the school for 30 years) that we are talking about adoption in the 80's. She cannot get her head around the fact that we openly talk about adoption in our house.
I was very glad that the inclusion manager (SEN Co-ordinator) was in the room, and able to take some of what I said, and comment on it, and add to what I was saying. I'm glad that I feel that I have a ally who is trying to understand this. She was trying to find ways to help, and offer support - and I am glad about that. Sadly though, she's not the one who will be in the classroom, day in day out. And I have a horrid feeling, that having gone through nursery without much of a blimp, next year we are going to be talking to school, an awful lot more! And hearing a lot more of 'he did...', 'he wouldn't do...' and 'he didn't...'
I got the feeling in the end, that she was quite glad that I've said he will stay part time for longer than the others. Something less to think about in the afternoon. I hope I'm wrong, but we have always maintained in this house... if you prepare for the worst, usually you will be amazed at how it turns out. I'm also prepared for all the comments of how good he is, until something goes badly wrong.
I left her with a copy of 'education now' and 'let's learn together' which the inclusion manager rushed off to copy. So hopefully one of them will read it.
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