Jedidiah has been in Kindergarten for just over two months now. Adjusting to the long days and to the many routines and rules of grade school has definitely been a challenge. Yet, Josh and I have seen our boy thrive in this new environment.
Jedidiah is an imaginative, sensitive, emotional child who enjoys learning facts, especially about science and history. He has, however been slower to be interested in reading and writing activities. He has taken awhile to learn fine motor skills, which led us to put him in occupational therapy in the year preceding Kindergarten.
Josh and I both felt confident that Jedidiah would rise to these new learning challenges when he was ready, and we did not want his self-esteem to be damaged by a system that would expect him to be on an unfair timeline. We wanted to nurture his interests, while continuing to nudge him in the fine motor arena. We feel so grateful that his kindergarten teachers have had just the same perspective. Jedidiah has grown in confidence through his school activities. And, he has made a great deal of progress in reading, writing, and drawing. It wasn’t until a month or two before school started that he began to draw at all. Now, he is drawing pictures of people and illustrating stories.
The best part is seeing his excitement about what he is learning. He is eager to tell us about the stories and songs they learn at school. He loves his special classes – drama, music, and art being his favorites. He shows us the correct form he has learned for various activities in gym class. He tells us all about his friends and their daily adventures. He has five children in his class with disabilities, and he rejoices with them in their successes. He is also learning sign language, and he delights in teaching us new signs.
Jedidiah and I have had countless good conversations and prayer times around his struggles and frustrations at school. We have prayed for good days after hard ones. We have prayed for God to help him learn to write. We have talked about loving others who seem different and even dirty (Jedidiah HATES germs and flips out about them more often than we’d like to admit). We’ve talked about ways to stand up for himself and how to handle people who play too rough. I’m thankful for the constant dialogue we have together about the challenges of school. I hope that continues through the years.
Not long ago, Josh and I had our first parent-teacher conference. I have to admit that I was quite nervous heading into it. We had heard virtually nothing from the teachers, only what Jedidiah told us in his daily reports on school. Jedidiah assured me beforehand that his teachers would say that he’s doing great. Still, the day of the conference, Jedidiah came home exhausted and broke down in ways that concerned me. When we arrived, the teachers (Jedidiah’s class has two teachers, due to the full-inclusion of the children with disabilities) showed us some of Jedidiah’s work. They mentioned no concerns, just gave us some resources for continuing to help Jedidiah at home.
Then, they went on to Jedidiah’s behavior at school. And what did they say?? Things like: “We just LOVE Jedidiah.” “He is SUCH a sweet soul.” “We love all the stories he shares with the class. He is a GREAT storyteller.” “All the kids love Jedidiah, and he plays well with everyone.” “We have never had even one behavior issue with Jedidiah.”
I tell you the truth, tears just rolled down my cheeks. It was probably a mixture of pregnancy hormones and a deep thankfulness to God that these teachers could see all the good in our boy. He is a challenging kid many times – he’s emotional and gets easily overstimulated. We’ve had a rocky journey at many stages. But, there is so much amazing about him, and I was just so relieved to see that school is pulling out that side of him. And, perhaps, school is helping him to regulate his emotions in more mature ways.
Still, he has days, especially days when we are busy after school and in the evening, when it’s all just too much for him. He breaks down. The whining begins and the emotions spin out. But, he holds it together for school. And, he has never once refused to go or cried when we left. He tries so very hard at school – sometimes to the point of stressing out about following all the rules just right.
But, all in all, this is going really well. I am thankful for the many teachers who are pouring into his life. I’m thankful for his third-grade reading buddy, who, in Jedidiah’s eyes, hung the moon. I’m thankful for all the new things he is learning and for the ways that he heading into them with joy and confidence. I’m thankful for a school that seems to fit him just right. So many of my fears have been calmed. Kindergarten feels less scary for all of us, I guess.
One of the highlights of the year so far was a dance party fundraiser. Jedidiah followed an adult leader doing choreographed moves to music for over an hour (think aerobics class or Jazzercise). I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched my son stick with the moves for so long. Many kids got tired and sat down, but Jedidiah stayed with it. I took some video of the dance party, but I’m not able to put it on the computer at this time. In the mean time, here are a few blurry pictures:
What a blessing it is to see this child grow and develop, becoming more and more the person God has made him to be.