For the first time in two years, my selectively mute daughter spoke in class on the very first day of school.
We were both very disappointed last week when we found out we didn’t get Ms. L. for a kindergarten teacher. Even though we knew there was an equal chance of getting her or Ms. P, we were really both hoping to get the one we were both familiar with (since oldest daughter had her 2 years prior). She also was very mad at first when she saw that she wasn’t going to have any of her friends that she did know in the classroom. She stated she didn’t want to go to school and I was slightly worried she’d still feel that way come the first day of school. In fact, we were so upset, we cried (though I saved my tears for when she wasn’t around to see me). But we had a few days to adjust to the idea she was going to get Ms. P. this year.
We went to the orientation day last night and K and I met her teacher, who seems pleasant enough, but K would not speak to her when the teacher talked to her. This didn’t really surprise me. But we did go to also see Ms. L. afterward. K did speak with Ms. L (not surprisingly since she talked with her during her K screening), and Ms. L. re-assured her that Ms. P was very nice. Ms. L. assured me that if K didn’t do well with Ms. P, we could meet with the principal about it. She did ask me to give it a chance (well, and I was planning to anyway).
This morning, fortunately, the girls woke up bright and early to get ready for school. K seemed happy enough about the prospect, though mid-way through her breakfast (a ham and cheese omelette, as this mama knows she needs protein to start the day off right) she had a tiny stomach ache (probably a bit of nerves).
She wore her new outfit I bought her yesterday (a grey and pink shirt and gray skort) and brought her new pink princess backpack (because she’s a girly girl). She didn’t give me any arguments about what she wore (especially when asked to change to something different than she chose), or brushing her teeth, or getting her shoes on. We were out the door on time and got to school with plenty of time to spare – which was a good thing, because I needed to stop in the office to buy my second grader some last minutes supplies. Then she confidently walked to her classroom.
All the preparation we did last year made this day totally a cake walk for her. Because she went to the early intervention preschool right within the school building that she would go to for elementary school, she had spent the entire year getting to know the building and staff for the transition to kindergarten. Towards the second half of the year, she and her speech teacher went on errands throughout the school building so she could become very familiar with the staff and the location of places. This year, her kindergarten classroom was located literally one door down from the preschool class she had last year. Because of this, she didn’t have “what if I get lost on the way to my classroom” worries.
It helps a lot that she is the middle child, because having an older sister at the elementary school meant that we spent an fair amount of time at the school (playing at the playground, going to the fun fair, going to the book fair, attending the pot-luck dinner at Halloween) so she had lots of good memories there.
This morning, she saw her preschool teacher from last year, who had a nice little chat with K and told her to “shine like a star” today, which made K smile when she told me about it.
As a result of all this preparation, K was able to participate on her very first day of class. When the teacher asked what day it was, K said, “Wednesday” and when the teacher asked K to tell something about herself, she said, “I have two sisters, M and E, and I like puppies”. She even made a friend today.
Now…this is wonderful news! This is what she’s been working so hard for for 2 years. I’m so proud of how far she’s come.
Now, the only other hurdle is to ensure that her educational needs are being met. Having finished up reading to me her first chapter book, Dinosaur’s Before Dark (a second grade level book), I have to make sure she is adequately challenged. She’s already voiced the opinion to me that she wants “medium work to do, not too easy and not too hard”. She always lets me know when she thinks things are too easy, or worse, too boring, so challenging her might be difficult in kindergarten, where the focus is on beginning reading skills and very basic math skills.
It will be interesting to see what she is assessed at each quarter. Given the fact she is speaking from the get go, and that she loves being quizzed on what she knows, I think she will do just fine with assessments now. I hope she can show them just how smart she is and that they will be able to accommodate her needs without me having to interfere too much. If not, I’ll be blogging about how to advocate for the needs of gifted students. I thought for sure with my oldest (who was a first grader last year) I’d have to do that, but she is the type of compliant student that doesn’t want to rock the boat – instead, she asked me to teach her things at home when things were too easy so that she didn’t have to ask the teacher for more challenging work. We did science projects, worked on multiplication, and discussed Harry Potter books 1-4 and now are discussing Percy Jackson The Lightening Thief. One great thing about her school is that they don’t frown on reading beyond grade level and she is able to take any Accelerated Reader quiz they choose.
There is one thing that gives me hope. Her preschool teacher did recognize her abilities and had an old Bracken School Readiness Test that she gave her even though she didn’t have to. We have the results that showing that she tested at a 7 year 11 month old when she was only 5.5. Hopefully, this teacher will see her abilities too and be a partner with us to find the work that is “just right” for her. They do start accelerated reader in Kindergarten, so I’m glad she gets to start doing the program.
I think K started off the year on a very strong foot and I’m going to be excited to see how things go for her. Her selective mutism may very well be a thing of the past. In fact, given the fact she’s really chatty at home, I would not be surprised if she gets so comfortable that she begins to chat too much as the year goes on that happened to my other very shy but not selectively mute M – first quarter she got marked down for lack of oral participation, by second quarter her report card included a comment about being a “little too chatty”.
Anyone want to make a wager I’ll be having a talk with the teacher about it, especially if she gets done with her class work early.