For those of you reading without knowledge of special ed or without a special needs child, this is a very involved post. I have posted a summary first for those of you who just want the basics. If you are involved in special ed or are family and want to know the details, feel free to read it all. :) Warning: it got long.
The meeting took almost two hours! I could not believe it when we walked out at almost 5:00pm. I was very impressed with the way it was set up. The school is very technologically advanced and used a laptop with projector to allow everyone to view it while we were writing it. They basically took the Mississippi IEP and wrote it on their form, asked if I thought all the goals and such were still appropriate and we changed a few things around to fit what GA does differently than MS. The have done quite a few tests already and are continuing to evaluate him according to GA's standards. We did put in a request for adaptive PE which is in addition to the regular PE class he will take. OT and PT know about him but have not done anything with him yet. He is testing lower than his MS scores indicate but that is typical of him as he seems to test better once he gets comfortable with a teacher.
My main concern with Music Man and his schooling is how exhausted he is every night. His school day is two hours longer here due to the bus ride to and from school. It is about an hour and ten minutes one way and for a typical kid it would be tiring. We did decide he needed a snack in the afternoon (!!!) as his lunch is at 12:30pm and he wasn't eating again until he got home at 4:30pm. We have to meet again in 60 days as a state-to-state transfer once all of his testing is done. We will review the IEP again and decide is anything needs to be adjusted or changed.
Music Man goes into a regular ed class as soon as he arrives at school just like he did in MS. I guess it would be called homeroom. I do not know how long he stays in there (tried to remember to ask for his daily schedule, but I think it is still not absolutely concrete since he is still doing a lot of testing.) He does get lunch, recess and specials (art, music, computer etc) with his regular ed class. He is also getting regular ed science and social studies with a para-pro, whom he adores. Reading is focused on a lot. I am unclear if what I am about to try to explain is what the school does or if it is district wide and I don't totally understand it all, but I will try my best to explain it. :) Classroom instruction is divided into units and a unit in this case is an hour. They have several reading units throughout the day (or is it week?) There is guided reading and teacher-directed reading as well as (I think) a regular reading unit/class. We are exploring how to divide up Noah's regular ed units (I think I heard yesterday that he gets 20 regular ed units in a given week.) We tossed around ideas such as the science and social studies being regular ed with the para-pro and then more self-contained/resource reading or even allowing him to go into more regular ed reading units such as the teacher-directed units and allowing the overlap of several reading units so he is getting exposure to more reading rather than just a minimal amount in the resource/self-contained class. My head is starting to hurt thinking about trying to explain it again. Forgive me. I am unsure if it is all clear. :)
I am concerned. I am very concerned. I love the school. I love the teachers. The administration is great. I am so worried about the length of his day. He doesn't seem to be making friends easily. He usually is able to tell me the names of friends as soon as he starts a new school year and new class. It has been two full weeks and he cannot tell me one name of a friend at school. His teachers were very glad to hear me point that out so they can be aware and help in that.
I am really just trying to get him through to the end of this school year and then re-evaluate during the summer. I hope and pray (really, really hard!!) that we are still here for next school term. I have been homesick for quite some time (like the whole eight years we were gone) and having just come back home, I am not ready to leave again. I really want to be close to family. I want my kids to grow up in the country and closer to family. Please pray for our transition to GA and as we look towards the future and dealing with the possibility of yet another move. And just so you know, moving again would mean that Jason was offered a ministry position that we felt God was telling us to take. We are not looking to just move for the sake of moving. It would definitely be God-led. Now all that being said, I am just trying to get though the year. I do not feel the bus ride is good for him but do not want to pull him out of school again when he is just trying to get used to things. We are considering other options as we look towards next school year and planning towards being here unless God leads otherwise.