Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

The best part of my job is the funny things the kids say, the ones that can talk that is..They keep us laughing and always on our toes. Allow me to share:

Little E was a boy who would never do anything for himself. He'd come into the classroom and just stand expecting us to remove his coat and backpack for him. He was potty trained but again, would not assist in anyway to help. We would unbutton his pants for him but he just stood there as if his arms were totally useless. His lack of self help skills came from his mother who would do everything for him, which doesn't fly in preschool. Even though we do our best to encourage our kiddo's sometimes it takes a peer to say it straight. On a routine trip to the bathroom we divide and conquer. One of us goes in with the girls, and another with the boys, while the other stays out and waits to help the preschoolers wash their hands. Cheryl was on boy duty. Little E was part of her group, they all go into the bathroom and Cheryl helps little E unbutton and pull down his pants. After he went potty he just stood there, without saying a word, waiting for someone to help him. Another little boy came out of his stall and saw little E standing there with his underpants down to his ankles. He took one look at his helpless friend and said, "Pull up your damn pants, your penis is showing."


We use a soft purple rope for the preschoolers to hold on to as we walk in the hallway, outside and to and from the bus. It keeps them together and teaches them to walk in a line. As we went out to collect the kids from the bus, again we divide and conquer. One of us will unbuckle the little ones, another will help them off the bus, and the other will stand by the rope and encourage them to hold on. This particular group of preschoolers had a very sassy little girl. It was her behaviour that qualified her for our program. Everyone was lined up and ready to enter the building, except Sassy. She had one hand holding her backpack and the other in her pocket. I reminded her to, "hold the rope," With her chin in the air and a determined tone she said, "I only have two hands!"

Half Pint

It's not required for the preschoolers to be potty trained. If they are still in diapers, we change them when necessary.One of our kiddo's was a pint size little man with blond hair, blue eyes and full of vin and vigor. He was one still in diapers. During free play I noticed a foul smell coming from our little half pint, so I grabbed a diaper from his backpack and told him we needed to go to the bathroom. As we were walking down the hall to the restroom he noticed the diaper I was holding, and said, "I don't need that, I'm already trained!"

The Crier's

We recently obtained two new students in our program. One is a cute blond haired, blue eyed boy and the other a sweet little girl with eye's that sparkle when she smiles...All was well and good when the parents were around, but when they left the crying started. Both the boy and the girl just wailed. All through circle and singing time the crying continued, we just ignore and carry on. Then, by the time snack rolled around, the boy finally stopped. One down, one to go...The girl would not come to the snack tables, she just sat in her chair and continued to cry and scream. Finally, our new little guy, whose own tears were still fresh on his face, looked at me and said, "Give her some soap" I was rather astonished, "soap?" Yeah, put some soap in her mouth to stop her crying...

Home sweet home

Our schedule is pretty sweet, with only working three days a week our classroom staff has pretty good attendance, which makes it nice for the students to have the consistency of the same teachers. If we get sick, it usually it falls on the four days we have off, and we are most always recovered by the time class rolls around. Once every so often one of us will fall sick during the week, which happened to be me. I was gone all three days, but the following Tuesday I was back in action. As we got the kids off the bus, a little boy ran up to me, embraced me with a big bear hug and said, "Your home!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Full Moon

Typically, when a full moon is about to shine we notice a change in the preschoolers energy level. They are more rambunctious, loud and a bit on the wild side. It's a funny thing how that works, even before we know it's going to be a full moon, we can always guess just by the mood of the children, that a full moon is on the rise. So today that's what it felt like, they were full of vin and vigor, very active, and extra loud but the weather told a different story. It was hot, humid and cloudy, more like a summer rain with a touch of thunder than a full moon. Weird, maybe the children are acting silly because schools almost out, June 9th is their last day, it could be summer fever instead. Being that they were too busy for the indoors, we took them out for a longer playtime, in which they thoroughly enjoyed riding bikes and swinging on the swing set. I was watching the ones swinging and noticed one of our cute little girls running towards a boy on the swing. She was holding her shorts as she ran, so I thought maybe they were too loose around the waist and were about to fall down, I couldn't have been more wrong. She stopped, turned around facing away from him, dropped her shorts and exposed her bare bottom, giving him a full moon.
It definitely was a lunar moment, just not the one I was expecting to see today and actually,
in all honesty, I was quite astonished. Never before in all my years of working with these little people, had anyone mooned another child. I'm not even going to try and figure out what prompted such an action, but what I can say is, just when I thought I seen it all, I actually did......

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bike Day

"Bikes today teacher?" The first words out of Mr. K's mouth as he exits the bus. "No not today, today is Tuesday, we play on the playground." "Oh," he says in a disappointed tone. Bike day is every Thursday, it's when we take out the tricycles and helmets and let them ride around outside on the basketball court. They love it, we have bikes of all kinds. There's big bikes, small bikes, yellow bikes and red bikes, a bike with two seats, a chariot and carriage bike and even a little red wagon. Although it's hectic trying to put helmets on everyone and getting them settled in to riding and taking turns, there's a method behind our madness. To the children it's a fun time of riding bikes and pulling the wagon, to us it's an evaluation of their gross motor skills. As for Mr. K, it's all about riding his favorite yellow bike with two seats. So every day it's the same question, "Bikes today teacher?" "No, today is Wednesday, we play in the gym," "Oh." But when Thursday rolls around he jumps for joy after asking, "Bikes today teacher?" and we reply, "Yes Mr. K, today is Thursday, we ride bikes." "Yea! My favorite."

We recently moved Mr. K into our afternoon class, it's a better fit for him as he out grew the morning kids. One of the advantages of coming every Tuesday and Thursday is, we have bike day every day. With a longer class time the children get two recesses, one of which is riding bikes. The disadvantage is he has more competition, the yellow two seat er tricycle is a favorite among other fellow bikers. The chaos around the shed where we keep the outdoor equipment is like a swarm of bees buzzing around the hive. The children gather around the door and start requesting what bikes they want, all at the same time. It's way too much mayhem, so we devised a plan to have the buzzing swarm of preschoolers run across the field to a chain link fence, which boarders the playground, while one of us stays behind and pulls out the bikes. It's a brilliant plan that works like a charm, it only took us half a year to figure it out, but hey, better late than never. What we have noticed, besides releasing a lot of their energy and giving us time to get the bikes ready, is how their strength and endurance has grown stronger each week. They also have figured out that what bike they get depends on how fast they run, since choosing a bike is on a first come first serve basis. Mr. K has learned to run really fast, as for the others, by the time they finish running they don't really care what bike they have. It's a win, win all around for everyone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

High Noon

The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town.......12:30 it arrives at school and the cutest cowboy stepped off decked out in his light up boots, cowboy hat and wearing
pants that looked as if he was doing a little steer wrestling before school. With his twinkling blue eyes, blond curly hair and a coy smile tucked under his black felt hat, he could melt any country girl's heart. A cowboy right down to the core, even his odor had a familiar smell. Being somewhat of a farm girl myself, I know the difference between cow dung and horse dung but his aroma didn't come from the animals on the farm, rather it was something he produced himself. This is where the familiarity comes into play. It's not uncommon for our four year old cowboy to arrive at school with messy pants.

Here let me back up a bit, before the bus dropped off our busy bunch, the teacher of our class was on the phone informing a parent the schools policy; if a child throws up, for any reason, they can't come to school for at least 24 hours. It just so happened that this particular parent's child threw up on the bus, it looked as if chocolate pudding was part of his lunch. As a matter of fact, the bus driver should get a special award for having to deal with the clean up, the smell and keeping the rest of the children calm, all the while maintaining his sunny personality. The mom of throw up boy was pleading her case trying to convince the teacher that her son is not sick and couldn't understand why she had to come pick him up after the bus arrived. But rules are rules, and he needed to go home. So while our fearless leader was waiting outside for the argumentative mom to retrieve her son, who was wearing chocolate pudding, the other parapro and I took the remaining children into the school. That's when I noticed the old familiar smell coming from the little cowboy and knew he I had a cleaning to do in a stall. With the mess creeping out the back of his pull up, I had him remove his shirt so it wouldn't get soiled during the cleaning. He's actually very capable when it comes to his self help skills and normally I would have had him take care of the mess himself, but this was an explosion of the worst kind, which actually baffles me how he can be so comfortable in it. None the less, I cleaned him up then directed him towards a stall to get dressed. As soon as he entered one, he turned right around and said, "Not that one, it has poop in it." He was right, some other student forgot to flush, but after what we just experienced and knowing he could have stayed in that messy pull up all day, why a little unflushed poop bothered him, I will never know......

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mr. Wind

"Mr. Wind whistled at my door, asked me to come and play...."
One of the songs we sing in March, which seems appropriate for that time of year, but here we are in May and the wind is still blowing just as hard as ever.
While things are whirling and spinning outside, garbage cans rolling around,
and the flag snapping on the pole, inside the classroom we are experiencing the same
kind of turbulence. It's as if a tornado is brewing but not quite ready to release it's fury. This would rank as one of the loud days.
I know the wind makes animals frisky, something about that blustery breeze gets to them and their energy level escalates. I'm beginning to believe it has the same effect on children. From the moment those sweet preschoolers got off the bus, I could tell it was going to be "one of those days," and my 14 years experience of working with children didn't let me down, I was right.
During circle time, they couldn't sit still. Poking each other, wiggling in their chairs, and whining - then at snack, everyone is talking at once, then talking louder to make sure they are being heard.
Still wiggling in their chairs, the drinks are spilling, napkins are falling on the floor taking the
snack with it and of course, more whining. But it wasn't until free play that the noise rose to a whole new level. A few of them decided to play "puppy dog," which meant crawling around and
barking. To make it even more interesting, "chase the puppy" became the new game - that's
when the screeching started, and the child on all fours figured out running is faster than
crawling so it evolved into "catch me if you can." "No running in the classroom," we
remind them. So, now we're back to barking puppies. Clean up time was like herding cats, they know the routine but on this windy, blustery day their listening skills went right out the door. Which is exactly what we did, we bundled everyone up, took their energy and gave it to the wind, thus creating a perfect storm.

It's what they needed. Free to run, screech, chase and be one with nature. I almost believe it was the wind all a long, beckoning them, calling to their little bodies, and stirring them up giving us no choice but to unleash the fury to the outdoors.

It was a beautiful sight actually, everything blowing, whirling, and spinning in perfect harmony.
As the song continues, "We pretended we were little red kites and we soared and we soared all day. Oh, we soared and we soared all day....."

Sunday, May 3, 2009


"I'm ba linging home a baby bumble bee, won't my mommy be so louda me, I'm ba linging home a baby bumble bee." A song that a little girl, I'll call Dora, started singing while cleaning up her snack area. Dora is a perfect name, with her round face, brown eyes and her hair cut in a short crop she looks just like "Dora the Explorer." OUCH, he stung me! I'm squalishing up a baby bumble bee, won't my mommy be so louda me, I'm squalishing up a baby bumble bee." I was also involved in cleaning up, but as she continued to sing, I sat down to listen in total amazement. Just a year ago we could barely understand what she was saying and now here she is, singing out loud in front of her class. "Ooooooh, he's gluey! I'm wiping off a baby bumble bee, won't my mommy be so louda me, I'm wiping off a baby bumble bee." When she was all done, I started clapping, then the rest of the class joined in, and at the moment she grinned, enhancing her chubby cheeks, and took a bow.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Job Chart

Every day each child gets the opportunity to select what job they want by placing their picture in the slot next to a specific job. The choice's are: Line Leader, snack helper, count the kids, copy helper, wagon master, bell ringer, light helper and the coveted job - Song leader. Yes, song leader, for some reason that has become an area of control among two of our preschoolers.

During the job chart activity, the children anticipate their names being pulled from the stack so they can choose a job. Now there's just one little boy who truly cares what job he gets, and he watches with great intensity as he waits his turn, "Teacher I want to be song leader" he announces, as a classmate chooses what they want. "Teacher, I want to be song leader," he repeats, as another job gets filled. On the verge of being frantic, he once again makes his point, "Teacher, I want to be song leader!" The only other child in class that picks up on his enthusiasm is a little girl that knows how to push his buttons. Guess what happens? Her name gets drawn before his........Can you guess what comes next? She chooses....

Song Leader! Ohhhhhhh, the disappointment. "Teacher, I wanted to be song leader," he complains as he folds his arms in disgust. Bingo! Just the reaction she was after, mission complete.

This carries over to the next day. Here we go again, "Teacher I want to be song leader" to his amazement, his name gets drawn first, and with all the attitude a four year old can muster,

puts his picture next to the coveted job, turns to his competitor, looks at her square in the eyes and says, "I'm song leader."

Quietly, under her breath, she whines, "I want to be song leader."

Who would have thought, in the world of a preschooler, being the song leader is the one that holds the power........

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My job

I've been working with developmentally delayed preschoolers for the past 14 years. It's a very challenging, yet rewarding job and I love every minute of it. Although we have a very predictable routine, each day is a new adventure.

The morning class, which meets every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, has our younger three year olds and typically the ones with a more significant delay. The delays can range from speech, behaviour, down syndrome, autism and anything else that doesn't fall within, what society considers, "the norm." We do a screen/evaluation, in which they have to pass, in order to qualify for our program.

Our afternoon preschoolers come on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30 - 3:00. We typically place the older three's and four year olds in this class.

Let me give a brief summery of how any given day can be: Hectic, loud, funny, chaotic, pleasant, smelly, gross, calm, amazing, and even, unbelievable. It's just too much fun not to share.

Mr. K is our four year old fashion king. Everyday as he enters the classroom he will make a point to show you what he is wearing and how it matches. He starts out with his shoes from the movie "Cars" and works his way up his legs saying, "Teacher, see my pants - matches, this, this and this," as he continues to sport his shirt, also from the same movie. He does this every day. The same shoes, just different pants and shirt but they are very tastefully coordinated according to him. He will notice your shoes, fingernail polish, what you are wearing and will tell you, "Pretty" if he likes it. One day while we were on the playground, another class walked by. Mr. K stopped what he was doing and went into a trance, just staring as they continued to pass us . I finally asked him, "Mr. K what has your attention, what do you see that you like?" He replied, "Heels, my favorite." Yep, sure enough a little girl was wearing a pair of sandals that had a slight heel.

Tuesday: I wore to school my black sketchers, lime green Capri's and a black shirt. It was a nice spring day and the clothes I choose to wear were light and comfortable and perfect for the hot weather. After we took the kids off the bus and entered the room, I was rather excited to see what the fashion king thought of my outfit. I said to Mr. K, "Look, see my shoes and my Capri's and my shirt, what do you think? I match." He made it very clear he wasn't impressed and gave me a sneer, with a furrowed brow. So I tried again, ever so eagerly, to gain his approval. "See, this, this and this", pointing to my shoes and working my way up to the shirt. Once again I received a very unimpressed look and he shook his head, no......Hummmm, totally shot down by a four year old preschooler, I felt that maybe, my outfit wasn't so great after all.. One of the other teachers caught on to what I was doing and laughed, "Obviously not impressed was he?"

"No, not at all" I mumbled.

It wasn't until later in the day that my self esteem was restored when a staff member, walking down the hall, noticed what I was wearing and commented, "Saimi, you look so 'chic' today, I love your outfit." Oh, it was just what I needed to hear! It still may take just the right outfit to please the fashion king, but at least I don't feel like such a loser when it comes to my sense of style.