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Sarah Stultz: Getting ready for — gulp — kindergarten

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

“When did he get so big?” I thought to myself as I prepared to leave the office Monday afternoon to go to Halverson Elementary School to meet a group of teachers.

My husband and I, along with our son, Landon, were meeting at the school in anticipation of Landon starting kindergarten in the fall.

Landon, who is 6, could have started kindergarten this past fall, but we decided to hold him back a year to continue growing at United Preschool.

It has been a long road for Landon already in his educational career, but I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the teachers and others who have played a part somewhere along the way. The early childhood programs in place to help our children with disabilities in the community are awesome.

His journey started with Early Childhood Special Education home visits, where we had physical therapy, speech therapy and others who came to our own home before Landon was even preschool age to work with him while he was young.

I remember some of the challenges we faced in all of these areas — along with the triumphs. All along the way Landon has done things on his own timetable — and no one else’s — but there’s nothing better than seeing your child succeed and seeing him be able to do something you didn’t think he would be able to do anytime soon. I remember one time we had a meeting with his team of teachers and therapists, and out of the blue Landon started jumping on a trampoline they had in the classroom. I had not seen him do that before, and I learned that day that I can never underestimate him.

After the home visits, Landon was in a few special education preschool classrooms before he transitioned into a regular classroom at United Preschool, where he has blossomed.

Though Landon still does things on his own timetable, and still receives special services, he has seen great success there. The teachers have taken him under their wings, and I will be forever grateful for the educational foundation they have given him.

I know he has loved it there because he asks about going to school every day of the week and proudly points out his school when we drive past.

Now, with only about a month to go until the end of the school year, we look ahead to him making his next big step and transitioning over to the elementary school level.

In some ways I feel like we’re leaving the security blanket of all of the teachers and others who have known Landon for so long, but in other ways I am excited to see him continue to grow.

I have no doubt there are many other wonderful teachers at the elementary school level who I will feel this same sense of gratitude for in the future.

I encourage other parents in the community who have children with delays or other disabilities to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available from an early age in our school district.

These opportunities have been a tremendous strength — not only for our son but also for support for us as parents.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.