Tuesday, April 17, 2012

School Wait List

Dear Ethan's Mom,
Too many people want to go to our great school, including your son...
BUT, you've been wait listed.
Your child could be selected between now and January 2012 if a spot opens up.
If you don't like this, take yourself off the list.
Sincerely,
School Assignment Boss

Here, where we live, there our neighborhood schools and what they call "Magnet Schools." Right now, my kids go to our neighborhood school and we honestly love it. I love the teachers my kids have, the specialists that work with Ethan...I mean, I spend half of my free time volunteering there so I must like it, right? Plus, I'm on the PTA board and bring the staff goodies every month.

But, Ethan will be starting 5th grade soon...which will lead to middle school! If you do not have a child with special needs or have ever had a child in middle school, you just don't realize what a transition this will be. Middle School teachers don't send home newsletters, you don't know what your child's homework is, and the most you can hope for is an email address for each teacher. There are no "class mom's" and volunteering is only for fund-raising...usually.

Ethan would be going from a school of 620 kids to 853. Ironically, they have the same number of teachers as we have at our elementary school, which only speaks to the class size. I am not sure about the EC services he would receive, but with so many more kids, I can only imagine that it will be harder to group him with other kids like him as opposed to ESL kids or more severely affected kids.

When I thought about Ethan going to this big school, all I could think of was him standing at the door of a classroom, looking out in a sea of kids in the hallway, wondering how to get from the doorway to the hall. Knowing him the way I do, merging into hall traffic with a bunch of middle school kids will lead to MeltDown City. He has a temper and like other kids on the spectrum, just looking at him can cause him to go off, to meltdown, and then the day might as well be over. 

The "Magnet School" we applied to is K-8, so it would be great for both boys. There are only 401 kids in the whole school...2 classes per grade until 6th grade. There they have 4 classes that you rotate through daily. The approximate class size for their middle school grades is 13. You can see why I would want to switch!

But apparently, we're wait listed...it's like college, except he's only 10! I was told that there are more spaces available in 5th grade than 6th, but I guess we will wait until next year and try again.

12 comments:

  1. Weird question, but is he academically in 6th grade or only "IEP" 6th? My son is technically going into 6th next year too, but he is cognitively more like a preschooler. I know your son is more advanced, but I was just mentioning it in case holding him back a year is a solution to your dilemma.

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  2. He will be in 5th grade next year, mainstreamed, so his IEP doesn't differentiate from the actual school year grade. We held him back from starting kindergarten a year, so he's one of the oldest in his class now. Academically, he's ready in some areas and needs helps in others. Right now his IEP is pretty accommodating for that help, though.

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  3. Any thoughts on homeschooling? I know it would probably be very difficult with the special needs, but there are programs out there to help. Just food for thought :)
    Melanie

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    1. I have many friends that homeschool, but it's not for me. When my daughter was in 3rd grade, I tried to homeschool her, but it was a disaster. I'm just not cut out for it, I guess. Ethan desperately needs to be around other people and right now, school is the only place he gets it...plus, he receives services through the school daily.

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  4. I can't even imagine going through this with a child who doesn't have special needs...so unfortunately I don't have any advice. I will pray for you and your son that you find a good solution!!

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  5. I feel your pain in all this, I have no real words of encouragment as I deal with something to this effect also, sadly we don't have magnet schools in our area and she already goes to one of the best schools. So all I can offer up is some prayers and thoughts so that it all works out in the best interest for your son.

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    1. Thanks, the school he is at now is really great...I was just hoping to make the transition to middle school a year earlier.

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  6. I live in a district where there are magnet schools and neighborhood schools. We applied for the "lottery" system to get my son in. Unfortunately, even with his very low number, he did not make it. Lot's of politics involved I know how frustrating it is not to get in but I am glad you are wait-listed and not just told "no". Good luck with everything. I know this is a big challenge.

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    1. I don't know how much politics we have...I did write a personal letter to the assignment person (which is what the EC teacher recommended) just explaining that with his special needs it would be an ideal learning environment. Obviously, that didn't help. My daughter went to a different magnet school for middle school and she got in with no problems. But many of the schools in our area that have become magnet is only because they were "failing" schools. They change their focus of learning to make it a place kids want to go. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  7. My prayers are with you. A friend of mine went through this with her child who does not have special needs, and it was a pins and needles ordeal. Her daughter got into the magnet school, which amazed and filled her with gratitude. Prayerfully, Ethan will too, whether from the waitlist or next term. God can do what people say is impossible.

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    1. Thanks! My daughter was accepted easily into magnet school for middles school...but I think that was mainly because it was an Arts Magnet. We will just keep waiting. :-)

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