Hi to all Parents and Carers,
In this post I wanted to talk little about back to school. It is that time of year and it seems more needed than ever, after lockdown. I want to share with you my views as a disabled parent and the return to school and the challenges that will arise from it. I also hope that this will reach out to the non-disabled parents/carers out there, because whether you have a disability or not being a parent is being a parent. We are all in that club together, or I hope we are.
Dylan’s school returned on the 3rd September a Thursday. I thought this was a little strange as it would only be two days before the weekend but I am glad they had done it this way as it did ease Dylan back into his routine and to the new changes that were made in school. He is now in his second week back and he is doing really well. He has had a few things to say about the changes, his main grievance is that he can’t play on the fields in school. That means less football for him. He said they wash their hands a lot but that it was okay. He said he is enjoying class as they are doing more activities and not too much work, so he is happy for now!
As parents we all want our children to be safe and to get a great education. I am very confident in the changes St John’s have made to prepare the children and to keep them safe. I am however struggling with the educational side of things. I say this in a loose way, as I am happy with the standard of education Dylan is getting, it is the support for me that I am finding difficult. I never imagined that what could hold Dylan back was my ability to help him. I know you may think I am being hard on myself but as a parent you are always afraid of failing your child. I find it hard to accept that he may not get the best because of my sight loss.
To give you an insight into what I mean. When lock down happened everything to do with school went online. Well as much as technology has improved my life, there are still many areas that have not caught up with accessibility. The schools are not aware or they choose not to take part. Either way the system the school has chosen was not accessible with my text to speech software. This created tension between Dylan and me. He, like most kids didn’t want to do homework and I wanted him to. I couldn’t check what he was doing was right or that when he said it wasn’t working or that the thing we were looking into was not there on the schools chosen system. I had to believe him. This left me frustrated and I didn’t want to snap at him as I knew it wasn’t his fault.
After talking with the school, they were very understanding and they sent me documents directly rather than through their chosen software platform. This really helped and we found our stride and his work book filled up. Unfortunately, since starting back and changing teachers that good communication flow stopped and everything reverted to using the software platform. I have brought it up again with the school and I am currently waiting on their response. It is another frustration that has been added to my new world. It is another thing I have to find solutions for and improvise to make Dylan’s and my life better.
Another concern on returning to school is social distancing and new routes. I understand completely that they are there for the safety of parents and their children and it is put in place under government guidelines. It just feels like it is another situation in this new normal where people with disabilities are forgotten about. The drop off and collection point for pick up has changed and they ask that you queue outside the gates whilst social distancing. They also asked for parents to bring the children to the gate at the opposite end of the road and to cross the road when collected. This is all fine and good if you have vision. I have gone through rehab training and one of my routes was to Dylan’s school. We work out a route and walk it time and time again so I remember every pot hole, curb and tree on the way. This is how visually impaired people learn to navigate independently. It is not that easy to change a route in a split second. So, with this in mind my uncle is back taking Dylan to school and I am left feeling useless and frustrated and looking into how I can improve on this as with everything in my life now, if I want to achieve it I have to work around it.
I have contacted the school to discuss alternative collections/drop off for me individually. I know some might say to just allow people to help and do things for you, but I want to take my son to school, I want to have that independence, and frankly why shouldn’t I?
I hope I have not put a ‘Debbie downer’ on your day, I just wanted to share with you what as a mum I go through. Some of the challenges I face and work through. As I said at the start of this post, we are all in this together and parenting is difficult no matter who you are or what abilities you have. I just want to show that there is always a way around a situation and not to give up. It is a case of looking at it from another angle, opening it up to other possibilities and the rest will slot together.
Sending love to all the kiddies out there on their return journeys and a respectful nod to the Parents and Carers that achieve so much.