Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Rave Review

My little caterpillar will soon be soaring
Today Maya visited her new school for the first time.

Last week was her last week at her old school.  The goodbye went fine, Maya was pretty non plussed about it.  We prepared her well and she didn't really have a big connection at this school.  We let her pick out her own goody bags to make it more concrete for her. 

The last couple of months have gone okay at The Pioneer, her school for the past 6 months, although Maya has said off and on since she started at that school in August that she wanted to go back to her old school, de Kabouterhuis (The Woodsman's House).  A few times, during quiet moments I have asked Maya why she was so happy there, I usually get different answers each time but a few times she said "I am just at home there."  And I do think that is what it was.  She felt safe at that school, she felt safe and secure, she understood what was expected of her.  In Dutch there is a saying which is  often used when you feel good about something that you zit lekker in jouw plek which literally means, "you sit comfortably in your place," but it really means everything is as it should be.  At Kabouterhuis Maya things were as they should be for her but at the Pioneer they weren't.  She really has been handling her situation like a champion.   On Friday after school she was a little bit clingy toward us but since then she has been her usual happy go lucky self.   This week she is off from school completely.  Leo and I felt it would be too hard for her to finish at one school on Friday and start on Monday at the new school. In the past she needs her time to make these transitions so we just didn't want to pressure her.

So this morning, Maya was pretty difficult (never a good sign), very clingy and not listening at all (hate those morning meltdowns, all the fun of a regular meltdown but with time pressure to boot).  But as we got ready and we got in the car she started to brighten up and by the time we arrived at the school she was very excited.  When we got there all the kids were in a small assembly seeing a play about how to treat the other kids and the teachers. We were met by the caretaker, a lovely guy that we met the last time.  He offered to take Maya to the assembly hall and although shy, she went with him happily.  She was greeted at the door by Anneke, one of her teachers and as the door closed behind her I saw Maya giving her a hug.  We were escorted upstairs and offered coffee and were told that one of Maya's other teachers would be along shortly.  After a few minutes Cecile came to meet us (she will be Maya's main mentor) and we had coffee and just chatted for a bit.  After the assembly the children went out for recess and Cecile ushered us downstairs to see Maya's class, where they already had her place at the table set up with her photo by her seat.  Cecile told us that the first six weeks they would get to know Maya better and also make an assessment where she was with things like numbers, reading, letters, etc. and that after six weeks we would be invited to a meeting with her teachers to develop Maya's individual educational plan for the remainder of the school year.  Cecile explained that although the kids in class did a lot of activities together that each child works from their own individual educational plan to reach their milestones.  An individual approach -- you know I like that!  She also explained that each week they learn five new words which they focus on each child learning and understanding through the course of the week.  Every Friday they send a letter home with the parents to inform us of what activities they have done during the week, including the five words which they give us pictograms for as well to help reinforce what the child has learned in school.  And she also told us that they have telephone hours every day before and after school if we have small questions or want to communicate something.  Me likey!

We went back upstairs to fill out some paperwork and after a bit Cecile suggested that we check in with Maya and that if she was doing okay we leave her for another hour or two and come back and pick her up.  We went to Maya and she was happily sitting in her place having some water with the other kids. When she saw me she came gushing over to tell me she had played on the slide and that the little girl who sat next to her brought her back to the class and showed her where to hang her coat.  I asked her if she was having fun and she said she was.  I asked her then if it would be okay if I went to work and that Leo would be back to pick her up and she said it was.

When we got home this evening Maya was happy and she told me that she liked it at her new school and that she wants to go there. She's very excited about the swimming lessons, the slide at the playground and that for the first time she will have music class.  She has her heart set on learning to play a "real" xylophone and keeps asking me if I think they have one.  When she got out of the bath tonight and I was drying her off she whispered to me, "I think I will be happy at the new school, like at Kabouterhuis."

I don't want to read too much into a 2 hour experience of course and I am not foolish enough to think that Maya won't have challenges to face down the road but for today, for this moment I am basking in the relief that Maya has taken yet another brave step and that she is happy and looking forward to this new adventure.

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