Kepler’s IEP meeting was this morning. For those who are not in the special education world, an IEP is an Individualized Education Program written by the team at the end of one school year to determine which academic goals will be worked on in the following school year, and how those goals will be measured and managed, and with what accommodations.
The goal of many parents is to have their child fully included or mainstreamed into the classroom with typical peers. Where this can become an issue is when the child has behavioral problems, or when the child is so delayed as to make participation in the regular classroom actually detrimental to his education rather than an enhancement to it. Kepler does fine behaviorally, but his academic delays in the areas of writing and math are significant enough that daily individual instruction is called for and best managed in the resource room.
I am so grateful to be in our school system where the special education professionals are so highly qualified, completely committed to serving their students, and determined to help each child succeed. I had been wondering lately if I should be pushing for more accommodations and services. I know other children with Ds who are Kepler’s age who are significantly more advanced in the areas of writing, reading and math. I suppose at this point, I’m pretty conscious of the fact that I don’t know everything, and I don’t even know all the questions I should ask. No doubt I will look back with my 20/20 hindsight someday and see how things could have been done differently. Except they can’t. If I knew how to be a different (better?) parent, I would, but if I’m the best parent I can be at this point, it’s hard to see how I should try to be different or better.
The issue of how I can best teach Kepler in our time at home after school and during the summer continues to be something I am committed to discovering. I keep thinking that the best methods to teach Kepler are not necessarily the natural teaching methods I am comfortable with, and that thought isn’t serving me or him. I am reminded of the phrases I discovered last week — follow the child; and meet the child where he is. Teaching Kepler, more than anything in my life, takes a willingness to take the next step and trust the one after that will appear.
Greg and I have been impacted by both the teachings and experiences based on the teachings of educator Kurt Hahn, a key figure in the development of experiential education. I believe my experiences have brought me to this point and that they are the perfect experiences to prepare me for teaching to Kepler’s strengths; discovering methods that spark his energy and enthusiasm; utilizing activities that engage his entire body; and following his interests and capabilities, while leading him by meeting him where he is. A quote from Kurt Hahn:
“I welcome this occasion to register my indebtedness to Dr. Zimmerman to whom I owe the watchword ‘training through the body, not training of the body.’ He agreed with Plate ‘Let us build up physical fitness for the sake of the soul.’ He considered it less important to develop the innate strength in a boy than to make him overcome his innate weakness. ‘Your disability is your opportunity’ he used to say to a boy who thought that certain standards were out of his reach. He was radiant when he succeeded in defeating a boy’s defeatism, but not more radiant than the boy himself who had learned a great lesson . . .”
Let Kepler’s disability be his opportunity, and let my own teaching challenges be my opportunity. We will be radiant.