Recently I received a note home from my daughters school. The note was from the Principal, who talked about how comforting it was to be part of such a close and supportive community. It made me feel proud to be part of the school. It also took me back to the time when both of my children were due to start school.
What a stressful time that was!
I’m sure I’m not alone, I am very protective of both my children. However, I am a significantly MORE protective of BIlly. Billy is non-verbal, therefore, I miss out on hearing him tell me what goes on when I’m not with him.
Billy is non-verbal, therefore, I miss out on hearing him tell me what goes on when I’m not with him.
I don’t know if he is feeling sad, uncomfortable, frightened, if he misses me, if he thought that was the last time he would see me, if he felt embarrassed or left out, if he felt shy, insecure, threatened or happy because he made a friend. I don’t hear him say he is excited to go back, or who is favourite teacher is. The list goes on.
The year before Billy had to start school, Billy became very ill.
We almost lost him that year. We spent most of it in and out of hospital. After three serious incidents, we discovered that Billy has a life threatening medical condition with symptoms next to no different than the common stomach bug.
The first time he fell ill, I was sent home after visiting the hospital. Let’s call it a mother’s instinct that made me return a day later and demand a doctor take a closer look into things.
Needless to say, when Billy’s first day of school was approaching, I was a blubbering mess.
I cried all of the time and wondered how “strangers” would know when my little boy was becoming fatally ill.
Although you may not have to worry about that sort of stuff, you will still have other things on your mind, when your child is due to start school.
Parents may feel some anxiety about things such as:
- Which school is right for your child? Such as a support unit with a mainstream school or a School for Specific Purposes.
- Your child’s medical condition.
- If your child is nonverbal and how he/she is enjoying school?
- Separation and Independence.
- Social issues such as interaction with others, making friends
and many more.
Most of the time it’s the parents that struggle through the first day of school.
You have probably seen it yourself, the new kindy kids happy and excited, well most of them, and their parents who look like they are in pain as they try so hard to hold back the tears, until they get back into the privacy of their cars.
It’s a stressful time and we will spend the whole day, thinking about them and checking the clock in anticipation. We will probably leave a lot earlier then we need to at home time, because we are jumping out of our skin to ask our children all about their first day.
For special needs parents, it is exactly the same, added with worry, distress, disappointment and deflation.
We will also leave early to pick up our special needs children. For some of us, the answers to our questions will be incomplete because we will have to hear about our child’s day from a teacher we have just met.
Our questions may be answered by teachers, for the entire duration of your child school life, but there are some things you can do to put your mind at ease.
As Billy is non-verbal I found myself wondering about him all day and it was starting to drive me crazy. I decided to take action rather than wonder. This helped me feel totally comfortable and happy with my choice of school.
There are things you can do to put your mind at ease such as:
- Get involved in parent programs offered at the school.
- Make regular appointments to meet with your child’s teacher, this can be as informal as a 5 minute chat.
- Use your child’s communication book daily to ask questions or for updates. Also ask the teachers to paste in as many photos as possible.
- Ask lots of questions, and ask a variety of people different questions.
- Address issues as soon as they arise, if you are uncomfortable with anything, mention it to your child’s teacher/school as soon as possible. This prevents any assumptions or gossip and besides that, we all know that waiting can make it awkward.
- If your child has a life-threatening medical condition, ensure the emergency care plan is up to date and accessible to all staff.
We got through that first year of school better than expected. Best of all, I was able to stop worrying (well almost) and focus on all the wonderful things Billy achieved at school. These are the moments I will cherish, after all that’s what it’s all about….
I would love to hear how you got through your child’s first year of school. Did you spend time at the school? Did you do something totally different to feel at ease?
The best information comes from other carers, so please leave a comment and share your insights.
Thanks for visiting and sharing with your friends. Your tips and knowledge are priceless, and helps many of the new special needs parents who visit here regularly.
Love your journey, cherish the moments.