When E was three, we moved him from an in-home to a preschool. We moved him because we had moved and the in-home was simply too far away. I thought preschool would be good for him. Within the month, he was moved up to the four and five-year-old class because the younger class was too far below him. She was teaching them how to cut paper and he was describing the inner workings of the heart.
The move was a disaster.
We found ourselves in a situation where E had to sit for prolonged periods of time doing worksheets over the alphabet and basic numbers. Because of the size, nap time became the worst time for him. While state law requires preschool children to lay for at least 30 minutes, this place required kids to lay for 2 hours. There was no where else to put kids who wouldn’t nap. We tried compromising, but it wasn’t seen as “fair” by the director. And you know, everything must be fair. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to make an energetic three-year-old boy lay still for 2 hours and then get upset when he can’t do it.
And so we moved him. To a better place. To a place that recognized he was far and above the rest. To a place that catered to his strengths and tried to teach him conflict resolution, control, and empathy. It was a rocky start, but they listened to us and we listened to them. We worked together to find solutions. There were good days and bad days, but there were more good. He was happy.
As I’ve already said, Kindergarten was a disaster. I know his teacher tried. I know she cared. I know she became overwhelmed and worn out. And I know she did not have training to handle the complexity that is E. That’s okay. I’m not a grudge holder, to which I am thankful.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. If, let’s say, you have my child restrained, fail to call me, and I find you chatting it up with the teachers in the pick-up line, I might hold a grudge. Or maybe it’s not a grudge. Maybe it’s pure, undying disrespect for you and your decision-making skills. Maybe because of that, I find you inept in making decisions about my child’s future.
With kindergarten behind us and the acceleration discussion still on-going, I am collecting evidence. One such piece of evidence that came to light with absolutely no trying on my part is the drastic change we’ve seen in E over the past few weeks. He is spending his summer in a center that has a variety of “labs.” Tech lab, learning lab, music lab, game lab, etc. The kids get to switch labs every hour. I thought for sure E would try to spend ALL of his time in tech, but that’s not the case. He joined a garden club and wants to join the guitar lessons. He loves the learning lab because “I can learn all about science stuff in there.” He enjoys music. And, of course, he enjoys the games lab.
Driving home one day, E said, “I’m going to learn so much this summer! I can learn about all sorts of things. I’m going to learn WAY more here than in school. Can I just go here?” He WANTS to learn! That’s a huge shift from where we were when school ended. But that’s just ONE piece of the puzzle.
Behavior. They listened to me when I described E. They have people on staff that are highly trained to handle behavioral issues. Every day when I pick him up, I see the papers laid out with names on the outside. They’re write ups. We have received ONE, and it was because he had a meltdown about another child not following to rules in a game. Since then, E will tell them when he feels like things are getting out of control and ask to go to his “cool down” spot. Seriously!
In the short time that he’s been there, he was won a dance competition because he and another child used “teamwork” to put together a dance routine that had everyone laughing. And he won TEAM MEMBER of the week! He won academic awards throughout the year in K, but to be TEAM MEMBER of the week for honoring and following the rules and code of the club?!?!?! I never thought it possible.
He wants to learn. He wants to listen. He’s trying so hard to follow the rules both there and at home. He’s happy. He’s beaming. He LOVES going.
And while those top the list of most important things about this change, I’m also cataloging it. Determining how best I can use this information to PROVE to the school that an engaged E isn’t perfect, but he’s a whole heck of a lot better than when he’s not engaged!