In some ways, making decisions about Liam and kindergarten were easy. His birthday is not close to the cut-off, so “when” to send him was not really much of a decision at all.
Where to send him and for how long, those were our difficult decisions.
Ultimately, while we lived in a great school district, they only offered half day Kindergarten. For that reason, mostly, and for small class size, we decided to send him to a private Kindergarten. We paid for Liam to have enrichment each afternoon. He got additional art, Kindermusik, “gym,” special trips throughout the community, and library. They were all classes of no more than 10 students. During the morning, his class was made up of 18 students.
We especially liked the enrichment options because we had done music class and Little Gym classes previously. Liam loved opportunities to bounce on trampolines and freely run around without too many other kids around. We had one of this birthday parties at a bounce place, and another at the Y where kids could swim. These were things he liked to do. Music, as I have mentioned before, made a great deal of sense to his math brain.
While art was not his favorite because he could get messy, if he was allowed to use a paint brush, or the teacher helped him with the messy part, he seemed to enjoy it.
The Kindergarten class had two adults. His main teacher, Mrs. Commons, was absolutely amazing – when you close your eyes and visualize a young Kindergarten teacher, you are probably seeing Mrs. Commons. We had learned that firm and structured, but also kind was the best type of teacher for Liam. Too firm and he would feel anxious. Too “loose” and Liam would be stressed by the “chaos.” Mrs. Commons was just right – to be sure!
A few months into the year, Mrs. Commons wanted to talk with my husband and me. She said that between herself and her classroom aid, then Liam’s Personal Care Assistant (PCA), which he only had for a few hours each day, three adults were too many in the room. No one knew who should help Liam – they were all offering him support and it was a bit too crowded. I shared that if we said we didn’t need a PCA, it would be about 6-9 months of paperwork to get someone back. Mrs. Commons was confident that she and her assistant could help Liam and that he would have a successful year. So we let the PCA go. No more PCA by Kindergarten. We never looked back from there with this type of support.
It was the first sign that Liam was growing and he was moving in the right direction. Certainly, he has had many ups and downs, and not everything about “school” has always gone perfectly. In general, though, school has been one constantly encouraging place for Liam. We hold every one of his teachers in our heart for how each of them have helped him learn socially and academically, and become the successful young man he is today.