Today I had to make a choice. One that will likely impact the next few years of my 12 year old daughter’s education, maybe the rest of it. And, I made the choice with my heart. With my gut. Out of love. For me, it wasn’t really even a question. I’m half listening to a faint whisper in a deep, dark place at the back of my brain. The educated place inside my mind that is begging for my attention, trying to point out that I might have made a bad choice…

But, I don’t care. 

Today was the three-year reevaluation for my daughter’s special education services. Whether they would continue was not the question. Rather, a decision had to be made as to whether or not she would redo her skill level assessments now or wait until the end of Middle School. She’s just starting 7th grade this year. I said do it now. Let’s see what she needs to work on before High School. The team of all of her teachers, the school psychologist and her special education case manager agreed. Sorry about those tests kiddo.

That decision was easy. 

And then came the words I knew I’d hear today. “She’s in Chorus, right?” Yes. Yes! She is in Chorus. In fact, even I was a bit surprised when on the first day of school my 12 year old came home and announced, “I have a new schedule! I signed up for Chorus!” with the biggest, most accomplished look on her face.  Since then she has come home with a song stuck  on repeat, and a little dance to go along with it. There’s something to that spring in her step and the excitement she feels about school each day.  Last year,  she came home from school daily with tears on her face rather than a song in her heart! 

Just let her sing.

I knew they wanted her out. Out of chorus. In her best interest, for the sake of her education, to give her more time to do math and English.  And I said no. I just refused. Yes, she’s behind in all of the core areas. Math, English, Reading and those trickle into her other core classes, giving her trouble here and there. But in chorus? She doesn’t need a para. She doesn’t need to feel frustrated. She doesn’t need to struggle. She doesn’t need to fight to stay afloat. 

She just needs to sing. 

I explained to the team that I’d never seen her so excited about anything at school before. So proud. So willing to practice. She has found one place to excel and be equal to her peers. And it makes her feel great! If I’m being completely honest, she isn’t going to close a three to four year reading gap in 45 minutes a day with an already spread thin special education instructor. That extra time will help but it won’t be a cure. And I don’t believe in my heart that it will be enough to make up for what she will loose if I force her to drop out of chorus.

So I compromised, a little.  

I agreed to let her share the time slot. Three days of chorus, two days of “Encore” which is essentially a guided study hall in the resource room. One of the teachers on the team mentioned that many kids split the chorus class up already, taking chorus on some days and band on others. It’s common. And, its not unheard of. This solution satisfied the whisper in the back of my mind while accommodating the scream from my heart. She’ll stay in chorus, she’ll get some extra help at school and I will commit to working a little harder with her at home on chorus days. 

Sing on sweet girl! 

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue. Plato

3 thoughts on “To Sing or Not to Sing? The #IEP Question of the Year #SpEd

  1. Erica, every blog piece of yours that I read, I am more and more glad that we met! I, too, have a 12 yo with special needs (autism) and we’re awaiting an IEP resolution. He was not happy when I dropped him off this morning and I don’t know quite what to do about it. It’s like all the work they do and they are rewarded with more hassles. 🙁 I’m with you — your little girl should be in the class that she loves. I had a little catch in my heart for her when I read this…and a sniff. It’s not fair and I hope things work out. (And our three-year re-eval is up in the air right now. STILL waiting almost 2 weeks after the announcement…)

    1. Aww,me too Dee! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and your son as well! My daughter’s official diagnosis is PDD-NOS along with ADHD and ODD, learning disabilities (NOS) and dyslexia. It’s so hard to see the struggles she has. This one is definitely going to be MY fight, not hers!! <3

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