Thursday, June 14, 2012

Watch Out Kindergarten There is a Storm Brewing!

I didn't exactly finish sharing about our trip to Florida but we are going to jump ahead to some thing too good not to share!!!!!!!

Riley is going to Kindergarten in the Fall at All Saints with his big brother!!!!!!!!!

Today was preschool graduation at the daycare he attends.  It was great fun!  Riley and his friends were able to show off some of their skills and perform for their parents.  The staff really went all out making sure the kids understand that graduation is a big deal.  It is a small in home daycare where the kids are really part of a family.  The house was decorated and the kids had read caps and gowns.  Seriously cute! 

Riley and his girls at daycare/preschool
He is one loved boy!

The kids did a great job showing off all their skills.  I'm super impressed that Miss Sarah could get a group of kids to sit that still.  There was a surprisingly small amount of wiggling going on and really no buggers being picked or dresses being flashed overhead. Riley loves his Sarah and he'll tell anyone that she is HIS Sarah! 

Our Graduate!

So Excited to spot dad!

Getting his diploma from Miss Sarah

Patiently waiting for the others...

So proud of our little man!
After the big graduation ceremony and the party that followed Riley rode the bus over to school to finish off the year.  It was a bitter sweet afternoon as we had to say good bye to his teachers that he has been with since he left the Guild School on his 3rd birthday.  To say I was a little leery of the school when he started was an understatement.  It wasn't where we thought he should be... it wasn't an integrated program... it just wasn't in our plan.  Well it didn't take us long to figure out it was exactly where he was meant to be.  It was a room of children with different disabilities but there was way more going on in that room than that description might lead you to believe.  That first year Riley was a very tiny guy compared to kids getting ready for kindergarten.  He was little but always part of the crowd.  He had verbal models and social models on how to behave and how not to behave.  Riley has a bit of a radar for the kids with crazy behavior and he navigates his way around them. 

Riley's first day of preschool November 30,2009

Waiting for the bus

After comparing our neighborhood school to where Riley had been placed made it even more clear to us that he was right where he needed to be.  The second year we kept him put and the third year we had to argue with the school district to keep him there and not move him.  The women at the District office told me I wasn't making a good decision keeping him in a self contained room when I had the option to move him to an integrated program.  "Other families fight for these spots" she told me.  She didn't know what to do with me when I told her that was fine she could give Riley's spot to one of those families that were fighting for it.

 Riley has always been plenty social and has lots of opportunities to be around typical kids.  He needed a teacher that didn't let him smile and pretend he can't do something. Someone that loved him and held him to a high standard all at the same time.  This third year Riley was still small but he was able to be more of a leader in the classroom.  He knew the routine and new that everyone had high expectations for him.  Riley had a dream team of teachers.  They were led by Michelle or "Chelle" as Riley called her.  One of my favorite quotes from Michelle is "no one told Riley that he has Down syndrome and its our job not to let him in on the secret". 

Riley and Michelle June 2012
Last Day of Preschool

On the last day of school your teach can turn you upside down and shake you if you don't listen! 

Two other women have made a huge impact in Riley school life as well.  Miss Collen and Miss Alice have put up with a lot of Riley and helped push him to be independent and successful.    
Miss Colleen

Miss Alice

Riley has been one very fortunate boy to be surround by people that challenge him and expect the best from him.  The last three years have gone fast.  It has been an amazing journey watching Riley grow and learn.  When he turned 3 and graduated from the Guild School it was a scary time.  I was pretty sure he wasn't ready, he was way to little to go to regular school and man it caused me a lot of anxiety.  I'll never forget taking Riley to preschool that first day and standing there in a daze.  I was the one fighting tears not Riley.  He just walked right in like he owned the place ready to make friends and get right in the middle of things. I promised myself then that I would remember that moment and not worry so much.  Its hard not to have anxiety over a big transition like this but I'm doing pretty darn well.  I've had more stress over people under estimating Riley's ability than the actually transition to kindergarten.  All Saints might have needed a little persuading but they are about to find out just how amazing this little boy is!

 Hopefully  Hurricane Riley and his Big Brother Rex aren't too big of a storm for one school to handle!