Thursday, August 27, 2015

United Nations Day

It's fancy dress time at school, officially. In the first term, the teachers and students at Little A's school go all out for National Language Week (Filipino traditional dress), United Nations Day (any country's dress, really), Halloween, and then the end-of-term pre-Christmas show.

Part of the reason for this is that most of the students are children of expats (therefore national and world awareness need to be given equal importance), and another part because many of the special needs students are very set in their ways. Most dislike breaks in routine and those with sensory processing issues have problems wearing different types of clothing. Little A fits into both categories and yet this year and last have made him so much more open, and willing, to put on various types of fancy dress. Kudos to the teachers for that.

Naturally, I try to find the least uncomfortable costumes in fabrics that are acceptable to him. This year, two trips to Japan led to the purchase of what is actually a pair of pajamas for Little A to wear to school for a day. I have seen photos of my Japanese friends' children wearing these types of outfits around the house, but one person's sleepwear is another's fancy dress, so what the heck.

Little A happily spent the day in the "costume," and together with his classmates, save one, made up the entire history of the Philippines. The Malaysian boy wore a Chinese outfit, one girl a Spanish dress, another boy a shirt and tie to symbolize America. Little A represented the World War II bit and came as a Japanese boy.

All went well then, and onwards to Halloween!

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Given the huge success of the football programme started last year at Little A's school, parents have been clamouring for more extracurricular activities for their children, especially those that involve said children expending their enormous reserves of energy.

A basketball programme was recently started, initially offered to the older children only, but eventually accommodated to include the younger ones.

Unlike the football coaches, who came into school and conducted individual assessments on every interested child, the basketball coaches just asked everyone who wanted to enroll their child in the programme to turn up at the first lesson on a Wednesday afternoon.

As luck (and my sieve-like memory) would have it, I was late picking Little A up from school that first Wednesday. By the time we arrived at the court where the class was being held, which in itself was no easy place to find), the first session was halfway done.

Little A jumped right in initially, as they were running similar drills to the ones done in football sessions. Later on, however, it became apparent that the skill level expected for a beginner class was far beyond what my barely 8-year old was capable of at this stage in his development. Perhaps this was why the class was initially targeted for children aged 10 and above.

Little A and his companions were not only expected to be able to dribble a ball competently, but to dribble the ball while walking and following an in and out weaving pattern. Assisted by two former professionals and two adept teens, the children were made to do a series of increasingly challenging courses.

My son has not yet achieved the level of coordination required to bounce and catch a ball while walking, let alone dodging in and out of a plastic cone obstacle course while doing so. Honestly, I don't even think I am capable of navigating that course as they set it.

The children who couldn't, or wouldn't, cooperate were allowed to simply wander the court on their own undirected. This was where the difference lay between the football coaches, who managed every week to engage the attention of a dozen children, get them to participate without any force, and seamlessly adjusted the activity to every child's skill level, and the basketball coaches, who simply expected every child to participate, or not.

Ten minutes before the session ended, Little A had given up and was seated next to me at the sidelines. We decided basketball wasn't for him at this time, and moved on to a more productive activity of grocery shopping at the supermarket by the carpark. Lesson learnt! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Second Grade

School is back in session and this year Little A is a second grader.

He is in his same old classroom, but this time with a new pair of teachers and a new group of classmates. He's been grouped with most of the neurotypical children in his year, and instead of spending half the day in an IEP program with a different bunch of kids and the other half in his "proper" classroom like he did in the first grade, this year he spends all day in the second grade room, apart from three pullouts a week for therapy (speech, occupational, and music, to be specific).

I worried he would have a hard time sitting still the entire day, but was told by his OT that they put a special cushion on Little A's chair that allowed him to bounce and rock as he prefers (in a manner that drives Big A, who is not without his own fidgets, incidentally, crazy at home!). We have also noticed that he happily picks up pens and other writing implements at home and scribbles on any old writing area - the backs of used envelopes, random receipts etc. So this is a good development.

Little A also has specific tasks - he is Schedule Monitor on Thursdays. This means he keeps track of the time and the lesson on that particular day. Each "subject" is posted on the board in a vertical row and at the end of each one, the sign is taken off and placed in the finished bin for return the next morning. This is a job my little boy takes quite seriously!

Finally, they have a new uniform. The white polo shirts drove all the parents crazy the past year as they showed dirt so quickly and were nearly impossible to rid of paint, ink and assorted stains the children would naturally get on them in the course of a day. The new shirts are a nice navy, and the only "dirt" Little A's regularly sports now is cat hair from our white furred pet.

There is a PE uniform as well, for Tuesdays and Thursdays, consisting of an aertex-type (or whatever they call the newfangled sweat-wicking material workout clothes are made of these days) fabric, also in navy with white side stripes. Very smart.

So the new academic year has begun. May it go well for Little A, his teachers, his classmates and the rest of the ever-growing school's roster of pupils and staff.