Jessica, Namine, and I made the drive up to Medford for Namine’s school orientation (which she’s been calling her “ornamentation”) today. We had a great time.
When I told my boss that my daughter’s school orientation was in the city of Medford, Wisconsin, he asked how she would get there. I thought the answer was obvious: “We’ll be driving her.” But he didn’t mean for the orientation; he meant during the school year. You see, Medford is nearly five hours away (assuming good traffic).
What he didn’t remember was that Namine is home-schooled. That’s not quite accurate, though. Namine is enrolled in a public school, but we teach her ourselves. Namine participates in virtual meetups with her teacher, but much of her school is done by us.
We didn’t have to attend the orientation. In fact, as the family with the longest distance to drive in order to attend, we would have only been met with understanding, had we decided not to come. But we wanted to. Even though Namine’s new teacher was unfortunately unable to be there, the rest of the staff was there. Namine’s Kindergarten teacher, whom she wanted to see most, was there. The trip was well worth making for the picnic back in May, and the trip was well worth making today.
Since Namine is only in first grade, her presence was not required for most of the day’s events; those were geared more toward the third through eighth graders. So while one of us (Jessica) stayed in the commons to fill out paperwork, the other (me) went with Namine to the room where all the kids gathered to play and watch movies.
Namine is generally a very outgoing and sociable girl, but when surrounded by a bunch of rowdy kids, she climbs inside herself. And this room was filled with rowdy kids. So Namine settled for doing what was comfortable: she wheeled up to a table with paper and crayons, and transitioned herself into a chair. She started drawing, and soon drew some friends to her.
I’ve seen this happen before, and I can never explain it, but it always amazes me. Namine has a magnetism to her, something that enables her to make friends wherever she goes. As she sat there drawing, other kids came up to her and engaged her in conversation. Namine, of course, is always happy to reciprocate.
After we ate lunch — they served sub sandwiches — they had a presentation on the new and unchanged school materials and resources. These were, of course, things that Jessica and I needed to know, but Namine didn’t really care for all the talking. She just wanted to go back into the play area.
After all the talking was over, it was time to pick up some extra art materials and Namine’s laptop. One of the many nice things about Namine being enrolled in the RVA is the school supplies — we get to keep all of them each year. The only thing we need to return is the laptop, but we get a replacement each year.
As we were gathering up our stuff to get going, the school psychologist came over to talk to us about Namine’s IEP, which could be started up again if we wished. Let me back up a bit.
When we were still exploring school options for Namine after pulling her out of preschool, her IEP (which required in-school therapy) was still active. When we first attempted to enroll her into RVA, she was denied due to the IEP being active; we had to revoke it before she could be enrolled successfully. This might seem odd, but it made sense. The school did not have a way to offer physical therapy, being five hours away, so we had to remove the requirement (dictated by the IEP) before she could “attend.”
So fast forward to today. The school now is authorized to administer physical therapy, albeit in a roundabout way. The therapist, being available through video chat, would give instruction to Namine. Therefore, if we wanted, we could set the IEP in motion once again.
I want to explain how awesome this is before I explain why we said thanks, but no thanks. When Namine was attending preschool, we tried and tried to get her school to simply follow her IEP. Nothing special, nothing above and beyond, just follow the IEP as it was written. But the teachers insisted on not only not following the IEP — for example, in providing Namine with PT a mere 20 minutes per week instead of the required four hours — but also in excluding her from as much as possible.
But here, with RVA, Namine’s teacher has treated her with respect and attention. Not only that, but the school has offered to reinstate the IEP if we deemed it beneficial. That’s going above and beyond what we’ve come to expect from any school, and it is not lost on us.
That said, an IEP is unnecessary for Namine at this point in time. Part of the IEP’s purpose, at the time, was to accommodate her being in a diaper, which she no longer is during the day. It was also, as I mentioned, to provide therapy during school. But being homeschooled, Namine’s therapy can be scheduled around school and vice-versa. Nonetheless, the lengths to which the school staff has gone for Namine do not go unappreciated.
On the way back to my aunt’s this afternoon, we encountered some crazy weather. We made it through the craziness safely, though. And how many times do you get to see three rainbows in one day?
Having been awake since before 7:00 this morning — we had to get up pretty early for the two hour drive — Namine took a short nap on the way back. She awoke rested and less crabby, which is always a good thing, and occupied herself with drawing, coloring, and reading.