First Day of School


First Day of School

For those of us in Michigan, today marked the first day of the 2007-2008 school year. At my house we were up early and getting ready for the bus for the first time. My oldest is starting second grade, but up until this year we transported him ourselves. This year he and his kindergarten-age brother are riding the bus together to and from school. It was a new adventure waiting for the bus this morning and then again at the end of the day. I’m sure the novelty will wear off relatively quickly, but it makes for some temporary excitement!

Over the course of the day I received numerous emails from families regarding the first day of school. Some emails were happy – “Great first day!” “Everything went smoothly.” “I survived leaving him for the first time!” Others were not so happy as problems arose, children were resistant to leaving home, or the school was not ready. Whether the first day back was great or awful, another school year is upon us and we have to decide how we are going to handle things that come up. Some things are best shrugged off or ignored because in the large scheme of things they aren’t important. Other things are critically important and will require a team approach and lots of problem solving. Some of you will be faced with hard decisions about what is in the best interest of your child and family. Others of you will relish having a year of successes and celebrations.

Most families will have great moments and not-so-great moments as the year progresses. I want to remind everyone that how we approach the good and the bad will determine how we fare over the course of this school year. Are we being proactive about communicating our child’s needs and providing resources? Are we guiding school staff to understand how to address problems that arise? Are we recognizing the successes along with the failures? Are we stepping in when our child’s needs are not being met? Are we taking time to evaluate the “fit” of our children with their current school environment? These are important things to consider not just at IEP time, but throughout the year. There should be on-going proactive communication between home and school. At the annual CORE Approach conference this year we talked about the concept of education being a fluid process that should be happening wherever and whenever. Learning and education is not something that happens within the walls of a traditional school – learning should be happening all the time and parents should be guiding the overall process of what the child is learning and how they are learning it, even when the child is not in their presence. Many times this is easier said than done, but I think it’s something worth striving for.

Maybe the Serenity Prayer provides the best guidance for approaching school issues with our children:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

May you all have serenity, courage, and wisdom as you embark on this new school year.

Until next week,

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