Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Speech Preschool, and the baby Bears

So, today we all went back to speech preschool and watched some more. By now the director totally knows something is up, so she positions herself by the glass and lectures the grad students sitting along the back wall of the observation room about what's happening every now and then, using this to say things like "Austin** is having an especially difficult week. He seems to be having a hard time readjusting after Spring Break." Or, "we're really working with the clock, trying to keep Austin on task for at least six minutes before going on a walk. We were having some success with this before the break . . . ."

Chris had asked me if he thought that Milo's recent, and new, interest in hitting people was related to his exposure to Austin. I said that I would be really reluctant to pin it on Austin as it's a somewhat age-appropriate behavior--even if we happen to have zero tolerance for it. (Is it twisted though that I now look back on the occasionally vicious fights I had with my brother with some fondness?) Watching them though--it's true that some of the boy's behavior was picked up by others in the room.

Interestingly, I became more concerned, this second morning of watching the preschool all the way through, about the teachers' willingness to let the kids control the schedule. It's one thing to be responsive to the needs of the kids. You can even ask, "Hey, what do you want to do next?" but if you say, "okay now we're going to do crafts" and instead the two sets of twins lay on the ground and do a nap-in, don't respond, "okay, we'll take a one minute nap first, but then you have to get up."

So we watched and took mental notes and then Max went to his speech therapy and Chris went home to get some work done and all the observing students signed their observation forms leaving Director and I alone in the room. I said, "since it's just you and I . . .

and I talked. I talked about how hard it is to be a new teacher--especially when you KNOW you're constantly being observed. But how important it is that the girls learn to be firm, too. That it is possible to know that the kids need to run or jump after the quiet activities--so that should be planned ahead of time and the kids should be directed in it. Noticing that all five of them have started running in large circles as soon as the puzzles are away and then saying, "Okay, we'll run for one minute and then . . ." won't cut it. They can't hear you now--they're running. You're still going to have to stop them by catching them again. I talked about the importance of safety and the patterns I'd noticed in Austin's behavior. I sympathised that he was obviously a kid with some unusual needs, but the more I watched the more I felt that he could be managed if there were better systems in place for it.

Director nodded and talked and took notes. Then Director's Director who in 8 months of working with these people I've never met (or known existed) came in (Coincidence, you think? I don't.) and we kept talking.

Sometimes when you're dealing with educators and administrators and Institutions, you talk, they defend, noone is happy, nothing is solved. This was our experience over and over with Max in K and 1st grade. Sometimes when you're dealing with educators and administrators and Instutions you talk, they take notes, and they agree that these requests are reasonable. They meet tomorrow morning to go over my comments and review the progress of the kids for thus far this semester. I am hopeful that the second half of this semester will be more productive.

But something else came out of these discussions and my watching my sons for another morning--the realization that they've grown. Although technically they won't age out of the program until they can go to kindergarten--they are aging out. Austin is a young three. The other set of twins are nine months younger than my boys. My boys have a level of maturity that Austin can't hope to touch for another year and a half. Their favorite times of preschool are all of it. The freeplay with the teachers, the circle time, the finger songs, the book reading, the discussion of the letter of the day, the art activity, the snack time, the running in circles.

I went home and discussed everything we'd seen with Chris and we agreed that probably the twins would not go back to speech preschool in the fall. We don't know what will happen in the fall, but they are ready for the "next level" and so we're taking the steps to leave some options open for what that could look like. We also agreed that instead we'd scrape together the money to have the speech program go back to individual articulation therapy with the boys. They can still benefit from that (although who knows what progress Ben might make without blue painter's tape in his ear--I forgot to mention that to Director. The more I think about it, the funnier it gets).

Congratulations to my cousin Ryan and his dear wife, Wendy. Wendy is a Type 1 diabetic who successfully carried a healthy baby boy to term and maintained unbelievable control over her own health through the entire pregnancy. She must be a living pin cushion by now, but she delivered a 7 lb, 1 oz baby boy at 1:02 am this morning--Spencer. And all she gets from me is a sweater. Speaking of which, I'm off to finish its neck. Wendy is Jewish, and I gather there is some tradition there of waiting until the baby is born to knit things. (We tend towards following that rule in general anyway--it keeps you from knitting something the wrong color--although I'm not the only one who has jumped the gun in regards to baby Oliver.)

I think it's kismet then, that as I've been busily cleaning out my stash of yarn these last few weeks, that I took some ugly brown yarn I'd try to resell twice, and thought, "you know, it's not THAT ugly. Maybe it just needs to be knit up to show itself well." After all, I don't usually buy brown anything, but there was something about this yarn when I originally saw it at the site of the woman who spun and dyed it, that called to me. It must have called loudly because it wasn't on sale to say the least. With only about 200 yds of it, I wasn't sure what I could make with it, so I went with a very small raglan sweater, no pattern, but based loosely on the kinds of sweaters I've been knitting recently. I'm trying that V-neck with it. If that doesn't work, I'll frog the neck and do a placket with buttons like the others. The yarn is incredibly bulky so it has knit up very quickly this week--and sure enough--it's really something else now that it's knit up. I'll be sure to photograph it in good light so you can get a feeling for its non-ugliness.

Anyway, initially I thought it might go to Dy's Smidge, but it's knitting up at about a 9-month size, so I think it's now going to Michigan for baby Spencer to wear next fall/winter. Anyway--off to do that now. Knit.

**name changed to something really common for this age group. he's just a kid.


Eliza said...

Who doesn't love to run in literal circles? I love to sometimes. The figurative ones, those aren't fun.

The Queen said...

Sure! I'm all for circles! I'm just not for circles when the instruction given was "clean up your puzzles." Let me be clear that my advice to them wasn't "don't let them run in circles"--it was "you know they need to run or jump or something right after that 15-minute quiet section. When you give the 1-minute warning that time is almost up, tell them then *while they can still hear you,* that they get a minute to run" (or jump or whatever).