It’s been too long since I’ve written a blog post. We’ve been out of our usual school routine and keeping ourselves busy with summertime fun.
As a child with special needs, Gigi has a right to have an extended school year in the state of Massachusetts. This would allow her a summertime continuation of her therapies, which are vital to her development. During the regular school year Gigi gets speech therapy for one hour once a week, physical therapy for one hour once and week, and occupational therapy for one hour every other week. Additionally, 6 hours of school a day has been instrumental in her growth as she learns from peer examples.
In late May Gigi received her assignment for extended school year. It would be at a school farther away from the almost half hour commute she already had, it was a 7:30 am start, dismissal was at 12:30pm, and it would be for about 5 weeks during the months of July and August. I decided we’re skipping. It was a quick decision, but I had a nagging worry that I made the right decision. I figured at least this is her first year; we could give it a try.
Last summer, as written in this blog post, Gigi thrived and developed over July and August as we went from our usual, boring routine to fun trips and mini vacations from Maine to New Jersey with her sisters at home with her to entertain and stimulate her. This summer was planned to be just as fun. Even though she would be missing therapies I hoped that a frequent change in scenery and new experiences would help her develop her motor skills and vocabulary.
That nagging worry that I made the right decision comes less and less frequently. Now that we are into August, July proved to be full of development for her. With Gigi at home instead of in school we were able to work on self feeding. She has become much more independent feeding herself sandwiches and slices of pizza.
The need for me to cut things into small pieces is much less, hooray! This skill was actually something that school wasn’t going to work on. With her home this summer I had more opportunities to do it.
The playground has been full of opportunities for Gigi to work on her gross motor skills. I have seen her go from not being able to climb a ladder to successfully climbing one, and she learned that only in an hour!
Regarding speech, Gigi says more and more every week. “Mama, come sit”, “Lala, play!” She has become very bossy lately. But we will play with her and her sisters like to sometimes make up their own therapies with her.
Sometimes we just need a break from the Down syndrome-related activities we need to do. We don’t have a choice to skip medical appointments and check-ups but if I can skip extended school, I’ll try it. Besides, I relish our summers. And there are always opportunities to work on skills when Gigi is in a new environment.
Being a parent that works part time and from home allows me to be able to have the luxury of making the decision to keep Gigi home during the summer. I’m sure that she would have made progress in school as well, but I am now convinced that keeping her out of school has not been a disadvantage to her and we were able to create great memories at the same time. We have traveled a lot so far this summer and we’re not done yet!
In Maine Gigi occupied herself and worked on her gross motor and strength by climbing in and out of the kayak. She also got great exercise splashing in the water.
During our trip to Atlantic City she played catch with herself at ski-ball for 30 minutes. That only cost me 25 cents for that hand-eye coordination exercise!
At the beach in Brigantine she worked on her balance as the waves crashed into her.
She got her exercise walking all over Niagara Falls, Ontario.
She also saw the beauty of nature’s waterfalls and rainbows.
Let me also mention that (even though I can’t find a good therapy tie to this) the girls were in my cousin’s wedding which kicked off our summertime fun.
My kids won’t be home with me forever, so until then we’ll enjoy ourselves together during the summer.