Thursday, September 10, 2009

Live, Learn, Advocate

This certainly has been a stressful week. I can safely say I was dreading going to school with the boys. Probably a good sign right there. I didn't want to sit and be judged by their teacher on my ability to discipline the boys but I saw this as the only option to keeping them in the class so I went. It was not comfortable but it was a good experience. Because in the end, I didn't want them in that class any more than their teacher did. The boys did okay, for the first hour. I think timing is an issue here. As class went on they had a harder time focusing and following directions. We spent a lot of time in time outs and me threatening to take them home to which they responded, please! They wanted to leave, they were not happy there--it was painfully clear to me. That was reason enough for me to want to pull them from the school. I think if other parents, however, sat through some classes, they'd want to pull their kids too. The class was disorganized and chaotic. The teacher seemed flustered. I find it ironic that she lectured me on schedules when hers changed so many times that morning. I won't say her job is easy or I could do it better (there is a reason I sit alone at a desk playing with blood all day and not the people it comes out of) but she has been doing it for 20 years, I expected more. I was reminded of an early thought that the kids may have some sensory processing issues. There was near constant music in the background (sometimes classical but also mind-grating Barney) which was distracting to me, but the boys seemed completely overwhelmed and overstimulated. I found Davis spinning around trying to calm himself and when frustrated he was hitting himself in the head over and over. The teacher also spoke down to the kids. I just don't appreciate that, I speak to my kids in words they understand but not like they are idiots. She spoke to me that way also so I can appreciate how it feels. Worse of all the boys were not included. They had already been written off. In circle time 11 of 14 kids were brought up to share, neither of my kids were (though they were behaving). At snack time Davis was sitting quietly just the same as the other kids and still was picked last. Made me want to cry or just walk out but I am proud of myself for making it through the class. The teacher called Wednesday to say it wasn't working out and not to bring the boys back. I wasn't going to anyway but it still hurts. I think it is the feeling of exclusion. I am sure I am projecting onto the boys a bit but I never felt like the popular girl in school. I had good friends but I saw them as prettier and more popular than me and as just being nice in letting me tag along. I fear for my kids to not be included. It's lame but I have been in a kind of mourning over the whole thing. I signed them up for school 6 months ago and have been excited ever since. It is a hard thing for me to let go. Doesn't mean we love them any less. Or that they still aren't as cute as can be! Carter bug
Big D
Tuesday night we took the munchkins up to Tibble Fork so they could run and I could decompress a little. The place is magic for me, I love being outside so much. It was refreshing to my frayed soul that day to hug my stinkers and hike, throw rocks, and watch the sunset over the mountain (and to lust after the little cabins near the lake). Wednesday we went to the Children's Garden with my fab cousin Whitney and her darling little Lily. She is working on her PhD in Special Ed and had some good tips and ideas for me. Last night we went to see Up at the dollar theater (loved it) though the kids weren't feeling great and a pile of popcorn and soda may not have been the best choice (Davis promptly threw it up when we got home). After getting our feverish sweeties to bed, Lowell and I stayed up playing the new Beatles Rock Band and it turns out I could be a groupie--I got 100% on the vocals. Yahoo! And today the fever continued so we stayed home from the gym and spent some time together. Snuggling my Carter baby this morning he told me I was the best friend he's "eber eber had". Guess I can't be all bad. We took the dogs for a walk and went on an alphabet hunt--finding letters everywhere we went. We had the added bonus of city council election time (lots of letters on those signs) and garbage day (W and M [Waste Management is on the side of the cans]). We also learned that Oscar starts with the aaah sound that O makes so he starts with O and Max and Maddy start with Mmmmm M. Carter loves his sounds. I love how much was accomplished in taking 3 dogs and 2 kids for a walk while working on letters. :)
So, where does this leave us? Good question. Before going to class Tuesday I kept having the word "advocate" run through my mind. I am my children's advocate for education. I need to watch out for them and make sure they get what they need so they can be happy and successful. Sitting in class with them I was trying to think of ways they could get more personalized attention. One way would be if they were in a state program where people trained to deal with situations like these would work with them on the skills they need to get through school. They would have to qualify for such services and I have no clue if they would. I made an appointment to discuss it with their pediatrician and hopefully get a referral to be evaluated by a child psychologist. I have also been calling the school district's early childhood assessment center but have not reached anyone there yet. So that would be the best situation (in my opinion), the next best is the only other person I know who knows them well enough and is patient enough (with the Lord's help) to work with them, me. So I have plans to do preschool at home this year if they don't qualify for the state. I know a teacher who is willing to get me lesson plans and worksheets and we will sit in our preschool room twice a week and have a formal class. I already have all the puzzles, lacing cards, craft kits, art supplies, computer games, workbooks, reading books, etc. so it only makes sense to put them to use. I have been gathering educational supplies for years always putting learning toys in their little hands. And with the spare $140 a month I'll now have, I can certainly come up with something as good (yes definitely better) than where they were. I have no doubt I can teach them what they need to know for school, the social aspect unfortunately I cannot teach. So I'll enroll them in some sports/music/art classes as available and hope to get them in a good school next year. That's the current plan anyway, subject to change. Tomorrow we are starting our field trips for each letter of the alphabet with A=aquarium.


Kristen said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your stinky experience with this preschool. It sounds to me like maybe they would just do better with a quieter, more organized preschool environment, or in other words, it might not really be your kids, it might be the teacher. And while it's true that sensory integrating problems could contribute, it could also be that any "normal" preschooler could struggle with noise and chaos.

Just some tidbits from my experience: Call the Special Ed Dept in the school district to set up an assessment, if you feel it's necessary. They won't be able to give you any "diagnosis" (esp with sensory issues - only an Occupational Therapist will do that) - but they assess all categories of development and determine eligibility (sounds like that is already what you are doing).
The Children's Center in Salt Lake was the best place we found for a formal psychological assessment. Kids are their specialty. Also THe Children With Special Health Care Needs Clinic through the health dept. has a developmental pediatrician that can give you a better idea if their development is on track.
Anyway - we've been going through all this assessment and diagnosis journey for about 4 yrs now, so if there's anything I can help you with or anything, please email me.

Good luck to you! My thoughts are with you. :)

Sal-my-gal said...

I know it's dissapointing, but at the same time I find myself thinking, "Good for you!" Good luck with your pre-school. There's a lot of blogs, and websites out there for home schooling, worksheets, and all kinds of stuff. There's a blog called "No Time For Flashcards" or something like it that I keep meaning to check out. It sounds fun.

Terri said...

I understand how you feel I spent so much time in school worried about feeling included but I always felt I didn't live up to everyone else. I even felt like kerri was so much prettier than me and we are identical explain that one . I think you are a great mom and from what I read on your blog I think your boys get to experience so many great things I only wish I can be as active with my kids.

Scott and Jillian said...

I'm with Sallie. It sucks that that preschool didn't work out for you guys, but I know you can do great with them at home. Everything you are doing with them is exactly what they need at their age. I'm going to do preschool with my kiddos this year, and from the research I've done on it, it sounds like you're on the right track. I can e-mail you the links for some of the blogs & websites I thought were helpful, if you'd like. (if I have your e-mail address, that is. I *think so...)

Queen Mother said...

I had a red flag raised for me just now..keep in mind, however, that having a child with this disorder I may be reading more into it than there is to really read. You mentioned one of the boys standing up and spinning during class when he was overstimulated. This is a red flag for sensory issues for me. Before I had 2 more children that are developmentally normal without sensory issues, I used to think that type of thing was normal because MY kid did it. Andrew didn't do just that, but he would (and still does) start clenching his teeth hard and clasp his hands together.

If you have noticed overstimulation to be a problem with the boys (and now that I am thinking it over in my head, it DOES seem to be an issue with them), then you need to call your local Child Find. Your prediatrician will have no clue - ours totally poo-pooed the idea with Andrew. Kristen is on the right track with telling you who to call.

They are only in preschool, and they are young; but if this is a continuing problem then it is something that needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. Eventually, they will have to be able to sit in a classroom.

This particular preschool does not sound like a good one. I have sat through my kids' preschool classes and now Kindergarten, and there is a set schedule and no disorganization. This teacher sounds nuts. :::hugs:::

Daniel said...

Meh, to heck with them. We're probably going to be homeschooling Owen starting in Preschool. He's 3 now, so should be starting pretty soon. Good luck with whatever you do.