Last summer, after I had made plans to homeschool Arabella, we moved to Deer Park.
We moved to Deer Park since we had planted The Basilica Community in the Pasadena/Deer Park area in 2006. We spent 2 years commuting to spend time with our churchfolk, and finally realized that we needed to be “in the midst” of our community. So, we tried to sell, and eventually rented, our little bungalow in downtown Houston, and found a rent house in Deer Park.
Of course, God found the rent house… Joel just drove the street to see the sign. It had a playhouse/swingset already, 3 bedrooms, 2 livingrooms and hardwoods. I still love it – a whole year later.
And at the end of our 1-block street is San Jacinto Elementary.
I didn’t know anything about San Jacinto Elementary. But the 2nd week of homeschooling Holden, I enrolled him in school… cuz I was not keeping up with his need for learning, and my full-time job. And I learned that SJE was a really organized, nice school.
What I still didn’t know was this: They have kids with Down syndrome in 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade. Down syndrome is their most well know disability.
But God knew this.
So, in November, Arabella started assessments, and I prepared for an ARD (the committee meeting to plan her “specialized” curriculum). I have heard horror stories about ARDS for 7 years, so I was nervous and took my husband, Arabella’s former principal, and my mom as back up.
But the committee agreed to my ideas. Arabella, already 7 yrs old (although she was 6 yrs on Sept 1) was allowed to spend the day in a Kindergarten class.
Arabella spent this spring in Kindergarten, and gained alot of ground. She was finally able to retain her alphabet and match numbers to items when counting.
So, I went back to ARD in May with hope. I decided, based on wise words from another parent, to think outside the box that Arabella’s peers have been educated in.
You see, as far as I know, most of Arabella’s 7 yr old DS friends went into 1st grade last year.
And this year they will be in 2nd grade. Regardless if they can read, or not.
This did not make sense to me. If Arabella cannot read in a class that is reading information to do their assignments, she will have 2 choices:
1. Be a distraction to the other kids.
2. Be quiet and color while other kids do their work – then do her work in another setting (ie. pull out classroom/resources).
So, I decided to ask for Arabella to be placed in the classroom where all the kids are learning to read – Kindergarten (again).
While the ARD committee was surprised, and had to call a recess so that the principal could attend, they agreed that this made sense.
I feel very good about this! Fortunately (or thankfully by God’s planning), Arabella is only the size of a Kindergartener, so she blends in great.
Now I just have to minimize her telling everyone that on September 11 she will be 8 yrs old!