Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Preschool Demons

We have a new boy in our class, and as always with new students, they aren't familiar with our songs and activities. We usually give them a good couple of weeks before they are one with the class, so until then, it's all about getting used to new things. One of our songs require a scarf in which we'll put it on our head and walk around the room, put it on our elbow, stomach, back etc...

Well the new guy did not like the scarf on his head, actually by his expression, I believe he was repulsed just by touching it. After our songs, dance and a brief circle time, we break for snack. On the menu was, bananas, goldfish crackers and cereal. As our certified teacher was helping a few of the children with the banana, by cutting it up into bite size pieces, she told the new boy that she felt the same way about banana's, the way he felt about the scarf. Not that he understood any of the conversation but teacher K has always despised banana's, the texture, taste and smell. This led me to relate my feelings on shaving cream. We use shaving cream as one of our sensory activities. We'll squirt the cream on the table in big piles and let the children play with it. Some love to smear it around and work it through their fingers, others use toy cars to make tracks but regardless of how fun it is, I avoid that table. I hate the smell of shaving cream, even if it says unscented the aroma fills the air with it's stench, if it's on your hands the smell won't go away and will linger the entire day. Yeah, I am not a shaving cream fan. Anyway, as we were all sitting around the snack table sharing our preschool demons, I asked the other para pro what her demons are, but then I got to thinking, I know what hers are. The nurse in her is always on the lookout for things that could pose a choking hazard or anything else that could be unsafe or a health risk for our little people.
She is our Safety Sam. The thing is, before she came along we never had any issues with choking, or a unknown deadly epidemic surface because a kid came to school with bad hygiene, or anyone dying because they ate some food that dropped on the floor. But one never knows with preschoolers, anything can happen, so we consider ourselves lucky to have her expertise in our classroom. The best thing about having more than one teacher, is where one falls short the others will pick up the slack, which keeps things running as smoothly as......well, as smoothly as possible.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Twins

My heart is breaking, our twins are moving back to Canada and I'm not ready for them to leave.
A year ago these two little boys came into our program, knowing absolutely nothing. Not that our program has high standards or expectations but the twins were like Ferrell children. I don't lay blame on the parents for their wild behavior, I'm sure they tried their best just to manage on a daily basis and felt over whelmed not knowing what to do with their boys. The twins had no language, would hit themselves, especially when upset, have self induced purging, and other bazaar behavior. In the classroom they had no social skills, would randomly hit other children, self stem on the toys instead of playing appropriately and during snack, they would stare at the food while crumbling it with their fingers. Outside, they had no idea how to play, slides and swings meant nothing to them, they were oblivious to the other children running around, and really, all they wanted to do, was feel the pebbles slide through their hands.

After a years time, our little Ferrell children started signing and talking, not only eating snack but requesting what they want, they now play with the other children, they know how to take off and hang up their own coats, dance to the music, smile and give hugs. I love those boys and feel they are leaving us too soon, but that's the name of the game with us. These little children come into our lives, touch us in a way no other can, then leave. It happens year after year, but just being able to be a small part in their life and know I've played a role in helping them, warms my heart and keeps me coming back.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another Day, Another Dollar

The few, the proud, the potty trained. It's our afternoon class that has a small handful of potty trained preschoolers. One little girl is very independent and has great self help skills, the only catch is, since she is just three, she needs someone to take her to the bathroom. No problem, as she was playing with another little girl, Miss independent came to me and said she had to go potty. The playmate said she wanted to go to. It's kinda of a girl thing to go in pairs, girls do it all the time. I grabbed a diaper for the playmate just in case. Once inside the bathroom, Miss independent went in a stall, locked the door and did her thing. The playmate wanted to sit on the toilet, so I humored her, helped her take off her wet diaper and put her on the pot. As she sat there, she squeezed, and squeezed then a tiny little drop came out. I congratulated her for going potty on the toilet then gave her some toilet paper to wipe. She took the paper from my hand, wiped from the backside, then flung the paper around showering me with toilet water and shouted, "Wook at this!" Lovely... We cleaned up, went back to class and I shared my experience with the teacher. She just laughed, patted me on the shoulder and said, "Another day, another dollar."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So, who's the screamer?

Ha, I just had to laugh. I was in the staff work room when the school psych approached me and asked, "So, who's the screamer?" Apparently he had heard some crying and screaming going on down on our end of the building, but the question at hand was, who's the screamer? Hmmm, I gave it some thought and replied, "It could have been the little guy last week that would have preferred to stay home rather than come to school, so he cried all day, or was it the the class next door who had one scream and carry on pretty much since the time he arrived, or better yet, was it the little girl that wanted to stay on the playground instead of going home, so she screamed at the top of her lungs all the way to the bus, but then, there was another who was so disappointed he couldn't play in the gym that pitching a fit was the only way he could share his feelings." I guess it's a legitimate question, but I really couldn't answer it. Instead, I just looked at him and had to laugh. Once he realized the silliness of what he had asked, he laughed as well then proceeded to joke about how we can get a grip on the screamers. He suggested we simply tell the one crying it's not his turn today to cry, it's so and so's turn, or perhaps the teachers turn. Can you see their little face, as it's turning red in a fit of hysteria, that it's not their day to cry? Hey, he's the psychologist it just might work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Peeler

Mr. G, no peeling! Mr. G is one of our little autistic fellas that likes to peel anything and everything from labels, name tags, tape, if it has a sticky back to it, Mr. G will find it and peel away. This behavior of his is was really an obsession for him when he first entered our classroom last year. He could find even the smallest of labels on things the rest of us would never even notice. Like a heat seeking missile homing in on the target, Mr. G would head directly to a sticky back label, scrape his fingers under the tape and start peeling. Nothing else would matter to him, trying to engage him in an activity would last but a minute and off he goes searching for something to peel. It took us about a half of a year to stop the behavior and for him to be able to focus on something other than sticky labels. Great progress! He has since moved up to the older preschool class that meets on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, but to give him more days, we have him with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He really has made tremendous progress and is starting to say a few words as well as use the P.E.C. system to communicate. But like any addict, it's hard to completely give up what you love the most, in Mr. G's case, it's peeling.

Let me give you an example of what I'm trying to explain here. Today we took the preschoolers outside to ride bikes and run around. We keep the bikes in a shed by the basketball court, where they ride. While all the children were playing, riding and running around, the little missile tuned in his homing devise, went inside the shed found the hand sanitiser bottle and proceeded to peel the label. I caught a glimpse of him from the corner of my eye and called his name. He actually looked in my direction, then I asked him to "Come here" which he amazingly did, but not without the sticky label in his hot little hand. I took the label from him and threw it in the trash can, and that little stinker saw where I threw it and looked in the the garbage. I said, "No Mr. G, that's icky." He looked at me with his sparkling eyes and smiled, let go of the trash can and skipped off. A year ago, he would have pitched a fit, cried and lashed out at us, but this time, he knew, he knew he was being sneaky and gave me that little smile as if to say, "I was this close!"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Without Missing a Beat

I recently returned to work after 2 12 months of medical leave. I've been away from the preschool room for so long, yet at the same time, I can't believe how fast it's felt now that I'm back. The crazy thing is, had I any other job where I wasn't sitting on floors, chasing three year old children, dodging flailing arms and legs as well as, other unpredictable movement, I would have been back to work much sooner. The draw back for me was, we were just getting underway and the school year was off to a good start. The preschoolers were learning the routine with good progress, and we had plenty of screenings to do as well as, children waiting to enroll, as soon as their IEP's were completed. Next thing I know, I'm out, recovering from an accident. Two surgeries, wound care appointments and physical therapy was my new job, it's what I had to focus on to get better. Mean while, back in class, new students are arriving and the others are growing and learning new things. I was actually a bit apprehensive upon returning. I figured the little ones had forgotten me and I would have no idea where to start, as I would know nothing of their progress and what they are currently doing. When I stepped into the preschool room for the first time in 27 days, not including Thanksgiving break and Christmas vacation, it felt as if I had never left. I was so excited to see the kids as we received them from the bus. A few looked at me as if they were wondering who I was and others gave me a big hug. Once we entered the classroom, the dynamics begun. One little guy cried the entire time, flinging his body on the ground, kicking and screaming. I later learned, his attendance for the month of December had only been three days. So to say the least, he was having a hard time being back. His crying set the tone, and everyone else seemed to play louder. I took a few of the girls to the bathroom. Two of which are not potty trained and wear diapers. One of the untrained girls locked herself in a stall, took off her diaper and flung it at me while I stood on the other side of the door. Since she could not unlock it, she crawled under with her bare bottom sticking up in the air. Then the other diaper girl squealed and danced about while I'm trying to dress her when she noticed "Teacher K" bring in another student that needed to use the restroom. Finally, with fresh clean diapers and washed hands, we returned to the classroom where the crying did not cease and the noise level continued to rise. I can't believe I was worried about not knowing where to begin. Everyone was pretty much the same, there was just more of them, I managed to pick up where I had left off and the kids never missed a beat....