About three weeks ago I was told by Princess's teacher that Princess could not go on the upcoming field trip unless I went. This was because she has recently had some non compliant issues with the aides. The classroom teacher was not planning on going on this field trip so she felt that Princess might have trouble listening and following directions which is why I was requested to go. I know now that this is discrimination based on the 504 Rehabilitation Act but since I had already promised my daughter that I would go, I went ahead and went.
I was told by Princess's teacher that I should drive my car down in case Princess had an issue and we needed to leave.
While on the field trip, I observed a few things that I thought were interesting. I am more convinced than ever that Princess would benefit from a highly trained 1:1 aide.
When we got to the place, one of the teachers had all of the kids line up to use the restroom. She asked me to go in with my daughter as perhaps she had been informed that I was there to help with her. Princess had no issues in the restroom. However, about 5 minutes after getting back in line with the other students, she whispered to me that she felt a little tinkle. I went in the restroom again with her. She told me that she needed a new pair of underwear. I did not have a clean pair with me. I even went to the car to see if there was a pair in her back pack. Upon hearing there was no underwear Princess became increasingly agitated. She even told me that she wanted to go home because she wasn't having any fun on the field trip. I told her that she had two choices: 1) to ignore the sensation or 2) let it get the best of her and then she would miss out on the field trip. I am happy to report that she let the feeling pass and was able to stay and fully participate.
Later there was a touch tank with sea creatures in it. Princess told me that she wanted to touch the sea star (AKA star fish) but could only do it if there was a wipee or hand sanitizer available for afterwards. I asked around and one of the teachers found a wipee for us. I told Princess that I had one so that if she wanted to try touching the creatures she could. Well she did eventually try touching the sea star. She totally flipped out and started crying very loudly. I was able to comfort her and calm her down. Within a short amount of time, Princess rejoined her group.
I did notice that Princess did a little bit of pushing and shoving that had to be nipped in the bud. She wanted to see what was in the touch tank but did not ask a boy to move over so that she could see. She also wandered off (not very far) at least once but I was able to bring her back to the group.
The rest of the field trip went without incident.
I am not sure how even Princess's teacher could have dealt with those things if she had been trying to attend to the needs of the other students.
IMHO, I feel that a properly trained aide could attend to Princess's needs. What would the teacher have done if she had a full blown melt down over the restroom or the touch tank issues?
When Princess was not having her issues, I hung back and did not hover. I tried to let her experience the field trip as fully as she was able.
Some may say that Princess acted the way that she did because I was there. Remember though she was already having trouble at school which is why her teacher told me that I had to go. Her teacher told me that Princess has had trouble on other field trips but that she tries to keep her by her side at all times. Difficult I am sure.
I noticed that Princess did not have any friends so to speak. She has been going to this school since December so I would have thought she would have had one or two little friends. I digress. That is a topic for another day.
So here's my Aha! Moment:
As you may know I taught for over 23 years. On occasion we would tell parents that if their child misbehaved, they could not go on a particular field trip. At a previous school I taught at, the sixth grade parents were told that their child might not be able to attend the yearly week long outdoor science camp if they had poor behavior. This was told to parents over a number of years until one principal told the teachers they could not make that statement or rule. At the time I often felt bad for the teacher and the other students who worked so hard to earn the field trip. In my naive opinion I thought that the other kids should not have to suffer and have their field trip potentially ruined because of another child's actions.
Now that I am the parent of one of "those" children, I think differently. If we look at field trips and overnight camps as part of the curriculum, then all children should be afforded the opportunity to go. If a child needs extra support, then a highly trained aide needs to be provided so that the child can access the curriculum.
In his book "The Explosive Child" Ross Greene says "Kids will do well if they can." This means that children don't mean to act up. They don't inherently want to misbehave. He believes that challenging children lack the skill set to make the right choices in many situations. I know this to be true for Princess. She has told me that she doesn't like being mean or annoying but in the moment she doesn't know what else to do. That is why it is crucial for her to have someone who can run interference or set her up for success ahead of time. I believe by not allowing students who chronically misbehave whether it is due to emotional health or other factors beyond the child's control, to not fully participate in the curriculum ( field trips, recesses etc.), we are denying them a Free and Appropriate Education. If my daughter needs an aide for this to be accomplished, then get her one. To me this is not really different than a child needing an aide for toileting purposes. This is also akin to a child needing a wheelchair or a wheelchair ramp to be able to fully participate in the school day. 'Nough said!
End of rant.