We all know that kids with disabilities will struggle with many things in their lives. (#TheStruggleisReal) As Gelli’s momma, I have chosen One World School as my parenting partner to ensure that the struggles Gelli will face in her educational career can be addressed in the most positive and constructive way possible.
It’s like how I explained awhile back in one of my other posts. I wrote about Gelli and her occupational therapist, Teacher Raina. What many people don’t realize is that Gelli had to go through hours of therapy, just to sit on her own. Gelli had to work on the muscles she needed to strengthen her core, enabling her to maintain her balance to sit unassisted.
I want to make this same analogy for how much work goes into Gelli’s education. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes for a child with exceptional needs when she goes to school and ultimately, because I know I chose the right school, I’m seeing Gelli thrive.
Early in the school year, Teacher Sarah and I were coordinating to set our Parent Teacher Conference. I am so grateful that we had our annual PTC to mark the beginning of the school year. This meeting set the stage for nurturing Gelli’s potential and facilitating her growth.
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First Day of Second Grade had this girl excited. So many hopes for this new school year. I wonder if this will be the year she dabbles in sports and I finally have a kid who likes soccer? A momma can dream you know…. • • • • #firstdayofschool #gellibean #oneworldschoolph #latepost #inclusiveeducation #inclusion #manila #philippines #fun #school #theluckyfew #lifewithds #downsyndromerocks
NO SUCH THING AS FIRST DAY JITTERS
The first day of school always holds so much hope and wonder for me and my kiddos.
Admittedly, it’s also that time of year when I get excited for more time for myself. I make plans to sit with my laptop and carve out time for writing. I say to myself that maybe this will be the year that I can start writing my memoir of Gelli’s birth and the gifts that her birth and my faith in God, has given me along the way.
I look forward to brunches with other momma friends, and lunch dates with Nino. But, while I enjoy daydreaming about all this extra (wishful) time for myself, I equally enjoy packing their lunches, helping them pick out their backpacks, and seeing them off to their esteemed edifices of education that are not only helping me shape their character, but preparing them for their next stage of life.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
The schools Nino and I have chosen for our children are our partners in child rearing. We chose schools that are aligned with how we parent, with our beliefs, and our core values. Sometimes, the village we depend on can be are our friends, sometimes they are the therapists of our children, sometimes the parental partners that we lean on most, are the extended family we live with, or the sisters who help pick up the slack when Nino and I can’t be there.
But we know that our children’s TEACHERS are most definitely our partners and part of our village in child rearing, because they spend 8 hours a day with our children during the school year!
TOO MUCH INFORMATION
A friend once asked me, “Aren’t you afraid that you put too much information out there about Gelli and her siblings? Like that she goes to One World School?”
Guys. This is a really valid point. And as someone who shares so much of her (censored) life on social media and here through my website, you know we have to take precautions whenever we share something.
As the kids get older I consider what they are comfortable with me sharing. Nino has expressed his concern with this fact as well. Please know that I only share what I think is helpful for other parents like me.
BUT HERE’S THE THING: when Gelli was born, I felt lost and alone. I didn’t know where to begin in raising her and I had this preconceived notion that somehow, because she had an extra chromosome, I would parent her in an entirely different way, than my three kids who came before her. Some of this is true, because my big kids didn’t need as many teachers or therapists on their teams to see them reach their potential, but ultimately, in our family, Gelli is not so special. She has the same expectations of helping set the table, cleaning up her messes, and speaking with respect to elders.
So, PLEASE KNOW that I put this information out there for others…in the hopes that it will be helpful one day for even at least one parent who is handed the diagnosis of Trisomy Twenty-One. That one parent who does not know what to do, and is staying up till the wee hours of the night scouring the internet for the first few months for answers, relevance, hints, or inspiration.
RESPONSIBILITY EDUCATES – Wendell Phillips
So, if I believe that sharing how we raise Gelli is helpful, I can share in a responsible way that mitigates her vulnerability. God gave Gelli to me because He knew I would be the mom she needed me to be. And the type of mom that I KNOW I need to be for her, is not only to help her reach her potential by choosing the right school, but also because I will share THAT school with others, (and how wonderful it is) for other parents to learn about as well.
THREE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT ONE WORLD SCHOOL
There are many things that I love about this school and how the headmaster, Ericson has built a nurturing environment for students of all ages and abilities. I will limit this post to only three, but surely I will write again for you to understand the many facets of inclusive education with Ericson and his team of parenting partners.
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES
During our #TeamGellibean meeting, Nino and I were able to meet with:
- her two second grade teachers
- her occupational therapist
- her Linda Mood reading specialist
- the team leader for elementary teachers
- her social skills therapist
- the head master of the school
Let me clarify. This is the BEGINNING of the school year conference. This is the time when we set our goals for Gelli, and set our plans into action. It’s where we coordinate with the whole team to recognize Gelli’s strengths and use them to propel her into a successful year at second grade.
It’s where we acknowledge Gelli’s areas of weakness and we understand where we need to pay extra attention to assist her in small ways. It’s where we all come together for Gelli, and we draw on our own areas of expertise to help Gelli SHINE.
How many schools in Manila, do you know hold a conference within the first month of the school year?
There are so many ways we can communicate with our children’s teachers. In an age where there are Viber and What’s App groups for every reason, I have learned to turn some of my notifications off on my phone because sometimes, it’s just too distracting. Of course, the best way to communicate with each of my children’s teachers is directly, either through email or text messaging rather than group conversations with other parents involved.
Admittedly, I know that my big kids don’t need me to pay so much attention to what they are doing in school (save for making sure to pay tuition) because two of them are already in college. Conversely, Gelli has performances, birthday parties for classmates, reinforcement exercises, and therapies to coordinate.
Gelli’s teacher uses this application to give parents a window into her typical day at One World School. Sometimes, she posts individual photos of the students and only gives access to that student’s parents.
Sometimes, it’s a group photo where all the parents can see, like, and even comment on the photo.
I don’t know if you cringe as much as I do whenever another Viber group is started and you are included, but having this app to communicate with Gelli’s co-teachers makes everything so much easier on me. I can keep my viber notifications on silent and check only when I feel the need to, so I don’t get overwhelmed.
OWS makes things EASIER for me…
So here is where One World School is kinda like a one stop shop for me.
In streamlining all of her therapies and coordinating with the classroom teachers, and even the headmaster of the school, I know that we are all on the same page for her care and her growth.
One World even has a developmental pediatrician that they work with regularly for their students. The ates and the kuyas care for the students in a way that is nurturing and genuine. Everyone knows Gelli’s name.
Also, when I drop Gelli off at school, I know that she is safe. I know that the teacher will call me if there is someone NEW trying to pick up Gelli from school. I know that everyone is paying really close attention to my little girl and that they want her to do just as well, as I do.
So, I’m at ease. Gelli is safe. And we are on the road to a successful school year with my little one ready to rock out second grade.
What are some things you love about the schools that you guys send your kiddos to? What are some of the things you look for?
ONE WORLD SCHOOL PHILIPPINES
444 A Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue
Barangay Guadalupe Viejo,
Makati City Philippines 1211