Graduation Day

Two years of growth, unexpected challenges, laughter and tears culminated in a virtual kindergarten graduation.

I can’t thank T’s teachers enough for hosting a virtual ceremony this morning during the pandemic to celebrate this important milestone.

They provided in advance a graduation kit – diploma, cardboard hat, fun sunglasses – to have ready for this morning’s bash.

T’s teachers opened with touching remarks then highlighted each child with a photo and remarks. Then she played three videos filled with uplifting messages, including a read-a-loud of Doctor Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You Will Go.”

In the absence of a live audience at home, I lined up T’s stuffed animals around our tablet.

At the start of the ceremony, T was being his silly self with Moo Moo. The hubby tried to calm him down, which then escalated into a tantrum.

T stormed off from the table – I quickly turned off our camera – and marched to his room. He slammed his door and screamed and cried.

I thought how this moment nicely encapsulated our struggles during virtual schooling.

But a short minute later, T calmed down, came downstairs and rejoined the ceremony.

To me, this moment perfectly captured the huge growth we’ve seen in T these last few months with regulating his emotions, sitting down in the class, and actively participating.

Yes, it was a constant struggle and required a lot of work and patience – on our part, T’s teachers’ part and T’s part – so I couldn’t think of a sweeter way than to end our kindergarten journey on this high note.

I’d like to look back at T’s kindergarten years and give thanks to the blessings and the challenges that brought us to this very moment in time.

I’d like to first thank the Kindergarten Intervention Program that T had the blessing to be a part of in his junior kindergarten year. 

After a disappointing end to his Montessori pre-school years – when he was not invited back to the school after a parent complained about his behaviour – T got into a specialized kindergarten intervention program at the public school board that had a small class size and specialized staff to support behavioural challenges.

It was, therefore, devastating to find out – from reading an article in the newspaper! – that the school board decided to cancel the program; because we were seeing first hand the positive impact the program had on T.

I’d like to next thank the school administrative staff – including T’s Principal, Superintendent, board staff and trustees – who listened to us when we raised our concerns, including through a deputation I made at a board meeting.

Thanks to their openness, T received a one-on-one Child and Youth Worker in senior kindergarten, when he was integrated into a regular classroom.

I’d like to thank the pandemic for bringing our family closer.

I can’t describe in words how exhausting and hard the last year has been with having to juggle full time work and virtual schooling/parenting a special needs child – in addition to unexpected events like my mom’s stroke.

But we made it and the hubby, T and I are closer and stronger thanks to this adversity.

I’d like to thank the amazing social services staff who supported T the last two years, from his amazing daycare staff and the Special Needs Resource Consultant that worked with the daycare, to the amazing developmental pediatrician, family psychologist and behaviour therapist at Surrey Place.

It truly takes a village and we’re so lucky to have a great village.

I’d like to thank T’s teachers, who were true heroes.

I don’t think people realize how insane it is to virtual school young kindergarteners!

They were so organized, creative and thoughtful in how they structured the class and how they adapted along the way to make it a smooth and rewarding experience for everyone.

I’d like to thank T’s amazing Child and Youth Worker.

She worked so hard to adapt to T’s strengths, challenges, and the pandemic.

She implemented many strategies to help him succeed, like one-on-ones, virtual scavenger hunts, and a token chart. They all contributed to T’s ability to now sit down, complete his work, participate and believe in himself.

But the hubby and I save our biggest thanks for our lovable little pest.

I think back to a year ago and even just six months ago.

He has come a long way with learning to better regulate his emotions, after explosive moments.

The biggest way we see this is how he gets up and storms off into his room. This may seem horrifying to most parents, but to us, this is him proactively finding a space to cool off. Sure, there’s screaming fits and crying, but he is able to calm down quickly now and rejoin the activity.

And get this, he’s even come up and said sorry after one of his moments.

This is huge.

Thanks to the persistence and patience of his teachers – and us parents too! – he mostly sat down through virtual class in the last three months.

Sure, he still fidgets, gets silly and restless, and sometimes gets up and wanders off – but I’m focusing on the many more moments he sat through a session.

The biggest gain that I was so happy with was his active participation in class.

His CYW implemented a token system where T had to work for his Nintendo Switch at the end of the school day. To do this, he had to participate at least 4 times during each school day.

It worked like a charm and on this second-to-last school day, T was the most active participant in his class.

I wish T could see and know just how bright and capable he is. But we will work on that. Life is a work in progress after all.

Most of all, I am so thankful for all that this kid teaches us – about resilience, adapting when things go off the rails, living in the moment, and focusing on the big picture.

The hubby and I are so proud of how T is ending his kindergarten journey and how he’s grown academically and socially. We’re so thankful for his teachers, CYW and all the supports on Team T.

And now, it’s time for rest and relaxation.

We’re gonna enjoy this moment and focus on having a super fun summer. Grade 1 can wait. We know the ups and downs will continue, but we are ready for it.

13 thoughts on “Graduation Day

  1. Congratulations. 💗 It sounds like there are many accomplishments to celebrate contained in this graduation day. These are wonderful steps Ab. I hope you all enjoy the Summer and soak in all you have each made possible.

    1. Thank you, LaDonna! It’s been a super slow and chill summer so far and wouldn’t have it any other way. Enjoy yours too!

  2. Happy graduation!! That’s nice that the school held a virtual graduation ceremony. I loved that you lined up all of T’s stuffed animals so they could cheer him on. This past year had been challenging for many families, but especially students and teachers who have had to adapt to new ways to learn and teach. Glad to hear T had made it through the year thanks to a solid support system and is making good progress!

    1. Thank you, L! Those stuffed animals wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 🤣 So happy this school year is over and we can now just relax. Hope you enjoy your summer as well. So many outdoor activities to look forward to!!! 🙂

  3. What a lovely post! Your positive outlook on life is a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to see what a great parent you are. T is very lucky to be so well loved and supported, and the benefits of this care – from all the people you mentioned – are showing.

    1. Thanks Juliette! I’ve always been an optimist but gotta say that parenting a child with special needs does chip away at that positivity from time to time. But we are lucky to have a good kid – and great supports for him – who help keep things in a positive perspective. Enjoy your summer as well!

  4. Yay! Congratulations to you and to T for such a wonderful accomplishment!! Yay!! It took a lot of hard work from his parents, his teachers, and I agree – T too. I am so happy for you all!!!

    1. Thank you, Robyn! 😊 We’re so happy and proud indeed. Now just gonna crash for a while and just relax. 🤣 Congrats on making it to the end of a school year too. Enjoy your summer!

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