Thursday, May 18, 2017

Self-Contained versus Inclusion

I had heard of Donuts with Dad and Muffins with Mom, but I had never heard of Munchkins (doughnut holes) with Mom. But doughnuts of any kind are a hit with kids so Grace and I were excited to attend.  I love spending time with my sweet Grace. She is a Daddy's girl, so anytime I get her by myself I'm happy to go. 

This year we transferred schools to be in the district's self-contained classroom. I have been worried all year about Grace leaving her neighborhood friends and wondered if she felt a part of the community at her new school.  So that morning I was concerned that she wouldn't know many people and would be nervous about where to sit. But she spotted a friend right away and talked with him as we ate our donuts. Then we spotted Grace's best friend and she was totally happy. 

Grace loves her friend and we hear all about M- at home. I'm so grateful Grace has such good friends.

Transferring schools was a difficult decision for us. I asked Grace a few months ago if she would like to return to her home school next year or stay in the self contained classroom. It wasn't even a difficult decision for her. She wants to stay.

Educationally I know she is getting the help she needs. We had problems in previous years. She is really good at looking like she knows what she is doing. She has fooled many a teacher that she understands the assignment and is working away, when she actually has no understanding of what to do. I think many of our special needs kids develop this talent as a survival mechanism. It makes them look like everyone else so they are not "different."

So entering a classroom where the ratio of teachers to students was smaller and the education was more tailored to her, made sense. But I worried that she was missing her friends. I worried that she was missing out on being stretched with interactions from typical peers. And I just worry sometimes if we made the right decision, because that is what moms do: we worry.

I know that inclusion is the big thing and there are many benefits to it. And it is what I wanted for my daughter. But my daughter is happier doing a bit of both. She spends the majority of her day in the self-contained classroom and attends specials with a typical 4th grade class. So for now we are staying. That may change in the future, but if Grace is progressing and is finding friends, then I am satisfied.

What decisions have you made about self-contained versus inclusion? How have you handled this decision?

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