Mason Goes to Kindergarten! [Weeks 1 & 2]

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mason started kindergarten on Tuesday, August 22nd and I can still hardly believe it. On one hand, I am so, SO proud of my big boy because this is a huge step for him. But on the other hand, I still don't feel old enough and responsible enough to have a child, let alone a kindergartener! Really it is a bittersweet time. But before we get to the first day of school, let's back up one day and start with kindergarten orientation (and a little background).

A little background... when Mason was evaluated last Fall to start services through the school district, they deemed him needing speech services but that was all. He did not qualify for the district's special ed preschool, so we kept him where he was and he got ABA therapy at school two days a week for three hours at a time (through our private insurance). We had an end of school year speech IEP meeting that led us to know of the transition to kindergarten still getting speech services. As of the first day of school, the plan was for him to be in mainstream kindergarten, with no aids, and get pulled out twice a week for 30 minutes each time to get speech services.

You also might remember when I talked about how we moved here (our moving announcement). I thought I actually blogged about WHY we moved, but for some reason I can't find the link to the post, so if I can't find it (maybe I didn't share (???)), I'll be sure to update you on that later. Long story short, this is the school we moved to go to!

Kindergarten orientation was Monday, August 21st at 10am. We were all ready and super excited to really get to see Mason's new school. Though we see it every day since we live practically across the street and we'd been to the soccer fields by the playground to watch our niece play soccer, we still hadn't really toured/seen it before. We arrived slightly before 10am and there were tons of people there. We checked in and got some information about the school. Then the principal started talking and introduced all the kindergarten teachers. Everything was going well until she got to Mason's teacher (they emailed us his teacher's name the night before) and she said she was "teaching a kindergarten/1st grade combo class". I'm sorry, WHAT? Mason is in a combo class?

I was already slightly apprehensive about him being in a mainstream class, alone with no aid, but I had confidence that he would do well and was excited that he would be with all the other kids. I mean he was in preschool most of the day with no aid and he was fine (though I guess I didn't really know how much his teachers were doing and how much he just behaved on his own). But then we found this out and I really didn't know what to think. Would he do better because it might be more structured with more table work? But he hates table work and has a very short attention span for it? Would he do better because he would have the older kids to "mentor" him? Is he still going to learn all the things that they learn in kindergarten? Is he going to get the kindergarten experience or is he going to be treated like a 1st grader? TONS of questions went through my mind.

We were then broken off in to groups based on teacher and we had a chance to meet Mason's teacher. She seemed SUPER nice, but... super overwhelmed... because she JUST found out on FRIDAY (3 days before school started) that she was teaching a combo class. Apparently there had been a major influx of students enrolling last minute (there were actually some people asking WHEN did school start and could they enroll on the day we went for orientation) and they had to add some classes. They added a TK class last minute (aka Friday) and split up Mason's teacher's 1st grade only class (what she was prepared for) into a combo class. The poor lady was SO, SO sweet, but so overwhelmed too. So, after meeting her for a few minutes and then taking a tour of the school, we headed to Target to pick up a few extra school supplies that she asked for and then home. I was feeling all the emotions and didn't really know what to think about how school was going to go the next day.

That night also happened to be Back to School Night which I thought we were supposed to go to, but it turns out that it was just for grades 1-5. I had texted a few people, posted about it on Instagram, cried (#justbeinghonest), and ultimately Seth and I decided that he would go back to the school that night to talk to the teacher and just give her a little background on Mason and how he has autism and how while he IS potty trained, he needs some reminders of when to go, etc. We just didn't want her to be blindsided on the first day or think he was acting out. So, Seth went back, I stayed home with Mason, and when he got home, I felt SO much better. The teacher was so thankful that he talked to her and was excited to meet Mason the next day. She also said she would see how Week 1 went and then speak to the other kindergarten teachers, the special education teacher, and the principal and they would decide if her class was the best fit for Mason or if they should move him to a traditional kindergarten classroom.

Day 1! Day 1 Seth and I both took off work so we could be there to walk Mason to school. He was SO excited and happily obliged my picture taking requests :) We got his lunch all packed up, got his back pack ready to go, and we were on our way. All the kids line up in lines outside their teachers classrooms but because Mason's classroom is technically a 1st grade class and on the other side of the hall, he lines up with another class. So when it was our turn, we all got to walk through the kindergarten room and across the hall to his classroom. His name was on the desk and he was sitting at a big table with 3 other kids. We hung his backpack on the hooks outside the classroom, I took some pictures, told him to have a good day, and Seth and I both said goodbye and we walked out of the class. We were going to drop off his lunch at his after school care when I turned around and saw his little head peeking out from behind the hallway. He had gotten out of his classroom! We motioned for him to go back and he did. And then he came out again. And we motioned again. And he came out AGAIN and then I thought I was going to lose it. I hadn't cried yet and was actually ok, but now I was terrified that if we actually left then he would get out and get lost. So I walked back, told him to go to his seat, and told the door monitor that he was ok, but he kept getting up, and to please watch and make sure he didn't get out. I walked away and sure enough, there he was again. I walked back and told the teacher and she said that the door would be closing soon (there was a little boy crying which was why it was still open) and would he be ok then and I said yes. I ended up dropping his lunch off and Seth stayed to watch and make sure Mason didn't come out again. I think he could tell I was on the brink of tears. So I dropped off his lunch and met Seth outside and everything was ok.

Seth and I ended up going to breakfast at this place that we've been wanting to try for FOREVER and had a Bloody Mary (him) and a mimosa (me) and the BEST breakfast I've ever had to celebrate being kid free. We then went to Disneyland for a few hours and then went to pick up Mason. Why did we send him to the after school care if we were both off that day? 1. He would be going on Tuesdays and I wanted him to get used to the routine. 2. We pay for it and 3. Adult day at Disney! But in all seriousness, he had a BLAST that day and didn't want to leave and come home.

All in all, Day 1 was a success! We ended the night with an ice cream date with the cousins and Mason falling asleep on the couch. Kindergarten, I love you!

Day 2 went smoothly. Seth went to work and I walked Mason to school alone. We met a little boy who lives in our complex who is in 5th grade who happened to recognize us from kindergarten orientation on Monday (he and his dad were running one of the booths) and he walked with us until we split off to go our respective ways. Today's drop off was a little different in the fact that the parents didn't get to walk the kids inside. The hall monitor came to meet the kids and then all walked in a line over to their classroom. It was so surreal seeing Mason just walk off, alone, without me, on his way, knowing exactly where to go. I seriously was beaming with pride. He is growing up right before my very eyes and I am so proud of how independent and confident he is. This morning I also happened to start chatting with a couple of the moms and we talked about our feelings on our kids being in a combo class.

Mason's teacher uses this app to stay in contact with the parents, to pass along any messages or reminders, and she uses it to post pictures. I absolutely love this part and LOVE seeing Mason playing and interacting with his peers. She sent a couple photos on the first day of school as well, one of the whole class and one of just his tablemates, and it made me feel so happy and so much more at ease.

The night of Day 3, we got an email from Mason's teacher saying that he was having trouble focusing on his table work. This came as no surprise to us since table work is one of his least preferred activities to do. She asked if he had any preferred books or quiet activities that we could send to try to keep him focused. Since he generally hates table work, I didn't have much to go off of, but I sent some books I knew he liked on Friday and then asked his therapist on Saturday and his old preschool teacher if they had any advice. They each had some advice, which I later passed along.

Day 4 was Friday and Seth's day to pick Mason up at school. (He had been going to the after school care from Tuesday-Thursday and was LOVING IT. He transitioned well and had no problem with one of the after school care workers coming to pick him up when school was over. There are several kids who go there after school and I think he was just happy to be with his friends. They feed him the lunch that I packed and then they play, have a snack, and play some more. What's not to love?) Anyway, Friday was Daddy's day to pick Mason up and while he was excited that Daddy was there, he was less than thrilled that he wasn't going to play with his friends at daycare so he pouted the whole walk home. LOL! It didn't last long though because Seth treated Mason to McDonald's for lunch and he was all smiles again. Once I got home, we ran some errands, and went out to dinner to celebrate a successful first week!

I won't bore you with day to day details of Week 2, but it has gone really well also. Mason is supposed to be getting speech two days a week in elementary school and I didn't think that it had started yet, so I popped in to the office to get the name of the speech teacher to contact her and check in. They left a message for her and we chatted a bit and she said he should start receiving speech last week (Week 2). She also mentioned that she wanted to set up an IEP meeting with me and Seth at the end of the week to go over some stuff. The first IEP meeting I was insanely nervous, but this one I was oddly excited for. I had a couple things I wanted to talk about but I was also excited to hear what they have in store for Mason as well.

And with that, I'll leave you with the anticipation of if Mason is still in a combo class or if he got moved to a regular kindergarten only class... Stay tuned!


  1. A combo class?! Crazy! I student taught in a combo 1/2 room and it was wild but also fun. I hope things keep going well for him!

  2. I'm glad it seems Mason is transitioning well into kindergarten! It's great that he's in a regular classroom, and hopefully he'll continue to handle it well. I'm loving the new look of your blog btw!

  3. Oh my goodness, he looks like such a big kid in those pictures! I'm so glad he's transitioning well so far. I can't wait to hear more. I seriously have major anxiety about Liam going into mainstream Kindergarten next year.

  4. He is growing up before my eyes too!! Good grief all this back to school stuff is so bittersweet and emotional. Im so glad he likes Kinder and is doing well (even if the table work is a struggle- I personally think 5 year olds shouldnt be tied to a desk) And yay for an adult only Disney day (you two totally deserved it!!)

  5. So crazy, Baby Fox got put into a combo class this year too. Not sure how I feel about that yet, we haven't gotten to talk to the teacher yet. Back to school night is next week, so I guess we'll find out then. Sounds like he is doing pretty good, can't believe you left us with a cliff hanger!

  6. A friend of mine lives in Redding, CA and here little girl was in TK last year and is in Kindergarten this year. I was a little confused by it all but after you explained it and what Bre has told me, I think it's a nice way to start out. Especially if you need extra time. You aren't getting held back or failing, you are just repeating a grade.

  7. It's awesome that he's enjoying it all and has transitioned so well!!
    Table work is hard - even as an adult! - to have to sit still for long periods of time!
    Anywho... Can't wait to hear if he's still in the mixed class!

  8. I just asked BTR (special ed teacher) about combo classrooms because I've never heard of them! He said they don't do them very often, but it does happen when more kids enroll last minute! I'm so excited for Mason, it sounds like kindergarten is good so far! Do they go a full day or half day?

  9. I'm glad Mason has been doing so well! I too would be super nervous the thought of a combo class, but it's great to hear that he did great for the first 2 weeks. I love your day off at Disney too- that's totally what I would've done :)


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