It's hard to believe that it's almost been one year since we were worried and nervous about Morgan's school placement for first grade. This school year has flown by and I feel confident we made the right decision for Morgan. It has been an amazing year! She was extremely lucky to get a teacher who was willing and excited to have a student with special needs; an aide with energy, patience and love for Morgan; and her very first best friend, Gracey.
I worried about Morgan being accepted and a part of the classroom but one of the most incredible things for me as a parent has been being able to watch friendships develop where those differences and challenges don't seem to matter to the other person. I've written about Gracey in other posts. She and Morgan are in the same first grade classroom. Gracey took an immediate interest in Morgan and they instantly became best friends. We had a scare a few weeks into the school year. Gracey moved far away from our school and we didn't think she was going to be able to keep coming to our school. I was so upset. It didn't seem fair. Morgan had finally found a friend who really cared and loved her and she was going to have to lose her. I cried and cried and cried. Not knowing what any of us (Morgan, me, aide, and teacher) would do without Gracey. The sweetest thing was that Gracey didn't care about changing schools only worried and upset about who would take care of Morgan. She knew Morgan needed her. We were so happy when they figured out a way to keep Gracey at our school.
She has been extremely helpful in the classroom. When Morgan doesn't want to do something for her teacher or aide, they know they can count on Gracey to get her to do it. But she has also been helpful out of the classroom. Things you don't think about with your other kids, but extracurricular activities are more difficult with Morgan. We have a hard time keeping track of her with the other 5 kids and usually choose to just stay home instead of going and chasing her around the entire time. Our school had a 'Family Skate Night' and we decided to go and be brave. Right when we walked inside the building, Gracey ran up to us and took Morgan's hand and asked her if she wanted to ride scooters together. "Sure!" Morgan and Gracey rode scooters the entire night. She's also helped at the school fundraiser, dinner at Sonic, playing on the playground, etc.
Gracey and Morgan at the school program
It was a school program for 3 grades (1st-3rd grade) but watching Morgan perform surrounded by her peers made it the program all about inclusion and acceptance for me. We were so proud watching her perform. It felt like our own personal victory.
It's not easy to work with Morgan. She's been known to be a tad stubborn and obstinate from time to time. We were all so lucky to get McKenna as her aide. When trying to decide between the special needs cluster classroom and full inclusion, I was told full inclusion would be better for Morgan socially but the cluster classroom would be better for her academically. I'm not so sure I agree. Morgan has done so well academically this year with McKenna. She's doing addition with manipulatives, counting by 5's and 10's, reading on an E Level (started the school year on C), taking spelling tests, writing all of her letters and numbers (she could only write the M-O-R-G-A-N at the beginning of the year).
McKenna and Morgan.
McKenna is moving back home, out of state, and won't be Morgan's aide next year. We are going to miss her so very much (such an understatement)!
Morgan brings home a new reading book each day from school. "My Messy Rooom" is the book she is currently working on.
It takes Morgan a long time to read a book. She is easily distracted by, well, anything really. I wanted to video her reading so I could remember what she was doing in first grade. I'm so impressed with the progress she has made since last year. She was able to read flash cards and beginning books. It took her almost a week to learn a new book and be able to pass it off. She is now able to read her books the day she comes home from school and take it back for a new book the next day. Here's a little sample (okay, not so little, more like 7 minutes) of her reading. I tried to edit out the distractions and pauses and it still took 7 minutes.
It may not sound like very big accomplishments to some but it is HUGE to us! We can see her progressing and that is reason enough for us to celebrate! She still has a lot of room for improvement. Socially, she still bullies any child who is smaller than she is. Behaviorally, she has a hard time controlling her excitement and yells and/or makes weird noises. Toilet training, after 15 months I'm almost ready to go back to pull ups, but I won't. Hopefully all of those things will improve with some more time too.
And the best thing about having Morgan in the neighborhood school??? Becoming a local celebrity -- both of us. We can't walk into a supermarket, library, church without some unknown child saying, " Hi Morgan!!!" or "Hi Morgan's mom!" And Morgan always knows their name and says Hi and sometimes adds, "How's school?"
Here's one last video. This was on tv a few weeks ago and I thought it was worth re-posting.