Emmie started kindergarten at Center Elementary. On her first day she was dressed in a multi colored skirt and purple shirt and carried a backpack that she picked out herself. Kindergarten was only a half day and she felt excited that her brother was in the first grade classroom next door. She showed some struggles through the year. She had problems memorizing letter sounds, sound blending, and overall phonics. Her teacher, who also taught my son and I loved her dearly, had complications through the year with her pregnancy and half way through the year we found more often than not a substitute would be present. Emmie's struggles could very easily be chalked up to the lack of stability in school. At home there were no changes, every afternoon we would open her folder and work on the homework provided. On "Math" days, homework was a breeze and she could easily could the butterflies on the paper or add the blocks. On days where more reading skills were required, it would take us hours to complete a simply "fill in the blank" worksheet. Towards the end of the year, she was labeled as "at risk for retention". After many tears and headaches, I decided it would be best to promote her to first grade.
Over the summer, we worked on her phonics. I made flash cards, puppets, and even turned the kitchen cabinets into "phonic soup". The repetition seemed to help her and I felt we were making progress. Emmie's first grade teacher had moved down from 6th grade. She was a gentle lady and I looked forward to her patience and excitement! First grade wasn't any different than kindergarten. The struggles were still present, despite the stability in the teacher. Emmie was certainly a smart cookie, finding ways to draw attention from the fact she hadn't completed her work. She would offer to help the teacher, offer to take care of the recycling, or offer to help another student. What worried us the most about Emmie was she wasn't able to remember or recall things easily. One minute, she would know her spelling words perfectly. But a few minutes later, or even the next day, it was almost as if they were completely erased from her memory. She had no recollection of them and we would have to start over again. She was enrolled in Title I services with the hopes of helping her reading skills. Some days I felt like it was helping, others I just felt like she was being pulled from class and making zero progress. Finally, it was requested that a Student Study Team review and meet with Emmie.
The Student Study Team consisted of three of the most amazing women, a Resource Specialist, Speech Therapist, and School Psychologist. Emmie would like to come up with names for these superheroes, but right now she's sleeping :) This team reviewed Emmie's classwork, met with her teacher and me, and even met with Emmie. After some testing, it was concluded that Emmie had a "specific learning disability" and would be receiving speech and language assistance, as well as Resource through her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). She would also continue her Title I services. But something the School Psychologist said during my initial IEP meeting struck a nerve with me. She noted during her testing that Emmie had auditory processing difficulties. This entire process was new to me, IEPs, Resource, Speech....it was completely overwhelming and on top of it all my husband was deployed. I can remember leaving my first IEP and crying all the way home. These beautiful women were so patient and so interested in doing their best to help my daughter but I couldn't help feeling like a failure because I didn't know where to begin. Emmie, of course, was labeled at "risk for retention".
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the summer and about Second Grade. Second Grade, which Emmie just completed, was a huge turning point for me and Emmie's education. I can't wait to share it with you.
P.S.-Thank you for your patience as I give you some background on how we ended up at this point in our path!