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.