This time of year is busy in schools as teachers are writing reports and organising classes for next year. At Punchbowl Primary the kids get to list three of their best friends that they would like to be in their class next year. We always talk it over with Jalen before they have to do it to make sure he is making a good choice, which he usually does. They aren't guaranteed to be in the class as the three people they listed, but they will usually get to be with at least one of those people. It was no surprise to me that Jalen wrote down that he wanted to be with Brayden, Katherine and his friend Rani. Unfortunately Katherine is a grade below him, so they may not end up together next year if there is no grade 4/5 at the school. I think in a few years time he is not going to believe that he chose to have a girl in his class!
For Noah he doesn't get to choose who he would like in his class, as he isn't able to make that kind of choice but Aaron and I have have to think hard about what would work best for him each year. When he was in Kinder and Prep he went to Punchbowl full time, but as he got older we realised that he would benefit from spending a few days at Newstead Heights School (special school ) as well. Up until this year he attended both schools with Di as his full time aide. This year we switched him to three days at Newstead Heights and two days at Punchbowl which meant he then lost his full time funding for an aide. He still had Di as his full time aide at Punchbowl, but at Newstead he was just a part of the class which usually has one teacher and three aides to around 5-8 kids.
There are pros and cons for this and I'm still not entirely sure if I have made the right decision, but think he is getting the best of both worlds. At Newstead it means that more aides get to know him, his routines, his moods, his health issues and he gets to know others as well. The downside is that he doesn't have someone with him the whole time. This means he doesn't get his daily physio at school which means we need to do more at home those nights, he doesn't have someone that knows him REALLY well, and they don't have a lot of time as they have to deal with 5 other kids as well.
Because of this they don't spend as much time 'toileting' him which can cause physical problems as they can't take the time to get him to empty his bladder fully. Doing it properly can take a lot of time -sometimes up to 10-20 minutes. If he isn't emptied properly he ends up getting urinary tract infections. Because all Di has to worry about all day is Noah she can take the time to give him physio therapy and spend time toileting him.
The downside of having Di as his full time aide at Punchbowl is that there is never anyone to do relief aide work if she can't be there as they have to be specially trained to do PEG feed, suctioning, toileting, how to deal with his seizures and how to lift him etc. There has been a lot of days when Noah has just had to stay home from school as there wasn't an aide to look after him at school.
Both schools offer Noah different things, so for next year we have decided to stick with him going 3 days to Newstead Heights and 2 days to Punchbowl. I thought by grade 3 (can't believe he is in grade 3 next year!) that we may have chosen to send him to Newstead more, as I knew the gap between him and his peers would be very obvious by now, but Punchbowl have been so great with him and the kids really love having him there. I feel that having Noah at the school benefits the other kids as much as it does him and the Principal and teachers agree with me. The kids have learnt so much from him and it's lovely to see how kind they are to him there.
At Newstead he will continue to be able to go swimming twice a week, which include hydrotherapy in the pool with physio therapists once a week. He also gets to participate in 'community access' which means he gets to go out on the bus with his class once a week to visit different places. At Punchbowl it is a bit trickier for him to go on excursions as they either need to have a special bus which costs the earth, get a maxi taxi or arrange for me to transport him.
Noah looks totally excited to be out and about ;) Kobe, Harri and I decided to join his class at Punchbowl a few weeks back and Noah either slept or yawned the entire time we were there!
Hopefully next year will be a good one for him at school with a great teacher and class at Punchbowl, as well as a great year at Newstead Heights (and very little time off school!).