Gainful Emloyment

The New Zealand government has a philosophy that all kids should be catered to in the school environment.  

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association describes school policy as a framework that integrates culture and practice, values and actions. Inclusive schools ensure that the principles of inclusion are embedded in their policies, plans, and actions. They develop specific policies for the inclusion of students with special education needs…”

Which is great, right?

So Squish’s school has approached me to ask if I might consider helping out as a teachers aide for a few weeks while they get a more permanent person in to work with a new kid.  I’ve started back at uni, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to juggle work and uni and family in the longer term.  

The new kid has a global developmental delay, and he needs an aide with him the whole time while he is at school.  I did my first shift today.  

And it was fine.  He’s a lovely kid, responsive and keen to try new things, and he has loads of energy and enthusiasm.  It was hard work, but I can see that working with him has the potential to be quite rewarding in the long term.

But yesterday, a teacher in the same school told me that there simply wasn’t enough resources to be able to give my kid the differentiation and attention that he needs in order to be integrated into exactly the same school.  That he would need to be home schooled if I wanted his learning to be tailored to his needs.

So much as I hate the whole “my kid is a precious snowflake” syndrome, it is rather a double standard to claim that the school can be all things to all kids – except the ones at the wrong end of the bell curve.

At the Mind Plus information session we went to last week, I asked about emerging research and best practice in the field of teaching gifted kids.  Internationally, more countries are starting to have classes just for gifted kids, and that these classes give kids the best opportunity to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.  

NZ policy is to cater to everyone, and giving extra support where it is required within the school setting – just not to kids like Squish, who struggle at the other end of the spectrum.

Tuesday adventures

This morning Squish and I traipsed off to New Lynn to the New Zealand Association for Gifted and Talented education, for him to have a another cognitive assessment, with a view to seeing if the one day school was appropriate for him. The appointment was for 10am, and took a few hours, so we had lunch (and a milkshake) with daddy in the city afterwards.

He’s been offered a place, and I’ve been strongly encouraged to take up the offer. Apparently, he scored above the 99th percentile for reasoning, which means that the way he thinks is highly original (we knew that!), and that he is unlikely to ever fit well in standard school (we were starting to understand that too).

On the up side, from next term he’ll have one day a week of inquiry based learning, in a small class environment (about 12 kids per class), where he will be encouraged to engage however he sees fit. And he’ll be with his academic peers – which is huge – rather than having to wait until he’s at university, I am really hoping he’ll find a bunch of kids that really get him. And don’t punch him for being “eccentric”.

And if you’re wondering why I used the word “eccentric”, read this lovely piece by Amy Gray.

A mobile apartment buildingToday’s culinary adventure – potted stilton with chocolate digestives and rhubarb jam.  

We’ve been watching “How to Cook like Heston”, and this was his choice of what he wanted to cook. Not macaroni & cheese, or even fondue. No – he wanted this…

140gm Stilton
70gm Marscapone

Mix well, pot, and chill

Chocolate digestives

Port wine reduction (or jam if you can’t be arsed, and you live in a country where port is considered to be for winos only)

Adventures

Today I did my first session as a counsellor for a new project trialling using Google Glass for breastfeeding information and support. I didn’t get any calls, but I did have a lovely time fiddling with the technology (I don’t get the glasses, just the software!), and working out the kinks. And I got started on uni for this semester, Cognition I, another one of those units that puts fear into the hearts of second year students. I’m only doing one subject this semester, with the aim of getting great results and lifting my GPA – and eventually being offered a place in honours.

And… There is further talk of Mark going to New Zealand. Still nothing confirmed, but we have agreed to the idea of thinking about considering a short term move. No idea what we would do with the house, or the creatures, or any practicalities, and it all may fall over (if a single person without a family volunteers for the role!), but we’ll see.

Genetics

Squish is doing really well at school. Last week he went up a few more reading levels, and is now at year two reading level. Socially, he is having a great time, his peers like him and he always has someone willing to play with him.

 

But for a while, I've had a nagging concern. At school, he is doing year one maths, but at home, he is exploring concepts far beyond his age level. Nothing astounding about that, given his fathers contribution genetically, but what I am seeing at home is at odds with where Mrs D has him in the classroom.

 

He's still “lazy” (for want of a better word!), and happy to coast along. He likes being the best in the class, but doesn't see any reason to put in effort. A trait that both his parents have in abundance.


Yesterday I had a chat with a friend from Uni who is studying primary education, and also works as a tutor. I explained the situation, and asked whether I should let it slide (because he is happy at school and not disruptive), or pursue it (so that he is set up for good experiences and habits at school). Unequivocally, she advised that we should make sure he was being challenged, and that it's not too early to encourage him to do his best.

 

Mark came with me to talk to Mrs D, and she agrees that he isn't being mathematically challenged in the classroom, but explained that it isn't possible for him to do group work at his level, and that she was concerned about removing him from his social group. But we've agreed that he won't miss anything if he does go to another class for a bit here and there, so she is going to talk to another teacher about him doing maths groups with a year two class.

 

Inigo will love it! I'm so excited for him, and I'm still so thrilled that he has such a wonderful caring teacher.

Another great weekend

Fiji Flag Bearer 2012.jpg

We watched the olympic opening ceremony, this guy was a highlight for me 😉

Yesterday was Leapy’s second birthday, Karl’s fortieth, and Marks company half year party. Bev and Ted kept Squish overnight, so Mark and I had a lovely night. I am slowly getting to know some of his colleagues and their other halves, so the parties are a bit more fun now. Last night was amazing. I met the wife of one of the partners, and we bonded over cracking jokes and drinking cocktails. I solved the problems of the world with a young guy from Melbourne who described his recent Hindu wedding ceremony, and reconnected with Magda from Poland, who apparently was inspired by my story at the last party, and has decided on more study and a career change. I was really touched.

I’ve cooked up a storm, had a great nights sleep, and bought a new kitchen appliance. Life is good.

And I am completely unprepared to start uni tomorrow!

80%

IMG_1592.JPG

I can swallow without painkillers, I can breathe, I can stay awake for more than an hour, and I can eat! I’m not feeling 100%, but after the past few months, 80% feels pretty damn good 🙂

Inigo and I took his paperwork up to school on Wednesday morning, and he is now on the road to being enrolled in big school. His school transition program starts next month, so we are gearing up for a big end of the year, and hopefully he is looking forward to the exciting elements of school rather than the scary ones. We’ve chosen a school that is just a bit further away than our local school, it’s just a bit smaller, a bit more diverse, and it has a school garden program, and no canteen. It’s still in easy cycling distance from home, and we’ve been attending playgroup and other activities there since before Inigo could walk, so he is very familiar with the environment.

I am trying super hard to be upbeat and positive, and not give in to the “he was only born about a week ago, and now I have to give his care over to the state, and he’s still my tiny baby” panic. He is sooo ready for the academic side of school life, and we are doing our best (with the help of his new preschool) to support his social interactions with kids his own age. He has no trouble holding long conversations with adults, but tends to find his peers pretty boring. Since that reminds me so much of me, I do worry, but I also know that we have made good choices for him, and that he will be well supported. And school for him will be worlds away from what I experienced in the mid 1970’s!

Uni is on a break for another week, so all I have to do is look after myself (and avoid getting sick again), and look after my lovely family. A new development that I would like to record for my own recollection is that in the past couple of weeks, bedtime has (touch wood) ceased to be a drama. After my very low point a few weeks ago, I’ve managed to institute a new routine that involves reading a long form story (starting with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and now James and the Giant Peach), after a few chapters of which he now snuggles in for a cuddle and drifts off to sleep in my arms. I hesitate to say that we have cracked the sleep problem, because it has been the bane of our existence for four and a half years, but the last two weeks have been great. Sleep time is now a time of loving connection and joy rather than a two hour screaming match that leaves everyone emotionally traumatised. Long may it last.

And tomorrow I am having friends over for a crafty morning. Mark has been going out on a Monday evening to follow his crazy hobbies, so I am co-opting Saturday mornings for mine. There is an open invitation to all, so if you are up for a bit of cake nibbling and yarn fondling, do pop over!

Happy 40th Birthday Mark

My darling husband turned 40 last week, and today I am throwing him a party. Now please don’t be offended if you didn’t get an invitation – this is a party for special people. Very special.

The type of “special” that still loves to play Dungeons and Dragons into their 40’s.

We’ve moved Cocky into the living room so that the players can take over the kitchen. I’ve made a huge pot of soup, and bread, and am bringing in pizza and making sausage rolls and popcorn. Perfect for a boys own adventure for grown ups, while the kids and widows take over the living room and watch movies 🙂 In my fantasy version of this party, the weather was good so the kids could play outdoors, but we’ll muddle through.

Happy Birthday darling. I love you.

20120317-203828.jpg

O Week

No tutorials or pracs this week, but thanks to Bev and Mum I am able to attend the first lectures of each of my two subjects (Social and Personality Psychology, and Cognition 1). So today all I had to do was get my student card, and try to borrow a book from the library.

After the walk from the carpark, I was already sweaty and lightheaded. I found the line for the student card, and quickly decided that I would either pass out or vomit if I had to stand there for more than a bout 5 minutes, so I gave up. The school leavers around me in the queue were outraged that I was planning on staying on campus without a valid student card. I thought one of them was going to hyperventilate because of the wild and unbuttoned anarchy. And that is clearly the problem with mature age students on campus 😉

I found myself some water, and joined the Dr Who society, the Greens, the Psychological Society, the Womens Collective, the LGBTI group (poor chap wasn’t quite ready for me), and the atheists. By which point I was ready to take to my chaise. I then came across the Campus Wellbeing stall, and it occurred to me that I might as well go and make friends with them, being that if this year goes well I’ll have a baby, and I may need extra support, and if things go badly, I won’t have a baby, and I will very shortly afterwards be certifiably insane…

So I staggered upstairs, explained my history to the lovely Jackie, and made an appointment to see a disability support officer in a few weeks time. She then offered to help me get my student card by taking me to the head of the queue. I almost protested, but better sense prevailed, and I gratefully accepted. And then, once I got it, I had another sit down for an hour to recover my strength to get back to the car.

So I spent about 3 hours in total, and managed to get 1 student card, drink about 2 litres of water, and book in to the wellbeing centre.

But I appear to have completely bypassed all of the promised O Week craziness.

Should I go back tomorrow? I still have a book to find!

Well…

That was about as much fun as stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork. And I am not done yet.

The subjects I have chosen all have prerequisites, which I will be exempted from because of previous studies, but that credit wont be applied until
Some time over the weekend. Once that is done, I should be able to apply online on Monday or Tuesday.

Then I can buy textbooks, and start the serious business of study. Finally!