School residential…two words that put the fear of God into any parent.
When Evie first started at mainstream school I doubted that she would be able to cope with a residential away from home. In year 2 at the grand old age of 6 or 7, her mainstream school take them away for an overnight stay…somewhere not too far away but it forms part of their curriculum for the next term.
The subject was raised with us at an EHCP meeting a few months ago. My initial reaction was no…I didn’t think she would cope, I was concerned about her being supervised “out and about” for a long duration, if she would be able to manage sensory-wise and meet the physical demands of walking long distances; and given her total lack of sleep of late, I didn’t see how it would be possible.
Her school were positive and encouraging…they really wanted her to go although it was on her special school days. We went and thought about it…and we devised a plan where we would stay locally to them and could “shadow” her day – i.e. be close enough to get to her should there be any problem.
The school held meetings with all parents to discuss any concerns and the planned itinerary.
One of the activities was to build sand castles on the beach. Now Evie loves the beach…she has ran hell for leather into the sea fully dressed on more than one occasion. Her vivacity for life and utter enjoyment is contagious. We know this and let her go for it…no point fighting such utter bliss. Knowing this I have chuckled (or rather guffawed) on more than one occasion at her school’s belief that a line in the sand being enough of a deterrent to Evie getting to the sea.
This week the day arrived…she clambered onto her school bus with her school friends. I had made a social story for her several days before which explained her days to her, who she would be with and when we would collect her. A social story is made up of photos of where she was visiting and in which order. Evie loves to know what she’s doing. Like me, she loves order and to understand what’s happening throughout her days and week.
We have a week planner at home which explains what she is doing on what day, particularly useful for the two different schools, medical appointments and holidays…helps to remind me too.
So off she clambered onto her coach with her bucket and spade. And off they went with all parents waving them off. Later we followed on and took advantage of a glorious Spring Day to entertain H. We had our phones at the ready, half expecting a phone call saying she was tired and wet.
That first night we collected her from the beach where her entire class were making sandcastles. They all shouted goodbye to her which was delightful to witness. Such immaculate behaviour from so many little ones. Made me extremely proud that Evie is their friend.
And the sea? Did she go in?
Nope. She hadn’t made it to the sea…I consider her school extremely lucky to have the tide so far out!!
The next day we returned and met her classmates. She patiently waited for them all to arrive and happily tootled off with them for the day. Later when we collected her she was full of life, though extremely tired and covered in sheep poo….good old Llandudno’s Great Orme 🐏💩.
What is interesting is that throughout the days H missed Evie so much…we all did. It felt wrong being close to her but not being able to be with her, wrong to have donuts on the pier without her…a bit too quiet and lonely. Evie on the other hand didn’t seem to miss us a jot – blooming charming!
She did so incredibly well, far better than we ever could have hoped. We were so proud of her and we know her school were too. Sometimes I think our own elements of protecting her could easily stand in the way of inclusion, if we weren’t careful to pay attention to them. Her safety will always be paramount but she does need to learn and to grow. Not only did Evie have the opportunity to learn and explore but so did we. It’s terribly hard to trust anyone with your child…but when that child doesn’t have the full ability to tell you her wishes and feelings, it’s doubly so. Our children are our most precious things…
So we give her the space to grow upwards and away…just as any other child does. Next year she can stay overnight with them!