Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Size Doesn't Fit All!


I have been so worried about Paprika since she started Pre-K a few weeks ago. Our happy, outgoing little girl has always loved school, all of a sudden she wanted nothing to do with it!

She didn't want to participate in the activities (just wanted to go off and read by herself in a corner). She would cry before school and after school. She didn't want us to leave her. She yawned at school and would put her head down on the table. She didn't want to make friends with the other kids and would constantly ask if we could just go home.

It was really stressing me out. My mind started reeling and wondering what was wrong...and goodness knows, my mind can jump to some very dramatic places! I wondered if she would ever be able to function in a traditional school setting. As I said, sometimes I can really over-react! ;-)

Well, after really thinking about it, and knowing Paprika after spending every day for the past four years with her, I figured out what the problem is.

First of all, her class had 22 four year old kids and one teacher. The class was loud, rambunctious, and felt disorganized. Chaotic!

Second, her class started at 9am, which for most kids her age would be fine. But Paprika wakes up at 9:30, so we were having to wake her up 90 minutes early. Since she doesn't take a nap, she was missing out on precious sleep. Even when we put her to bed earlier, she still wanted to linger in the morning. She takes a little while to wake up (sounds like someone else I know - me!).

Third, the classroom itself was very small and the whole school was dark and gated with chain link fences everywhere. It didn't have an "open" feeling - which I guess wouldn't have made a huge difference, but coupled with the other issues it was just the icing on the proverbial cake. I guess some would call it feng just did not feel welcoming.

The early morning start time, coupled with the loud classroom, and the number of kids- it was just too overwhelming for her. She was just shutting down in class. It was even overwhelming for me. I had been sending Mr. Mustard to school on our work days because I just really did not want to be there either. As I said, Chaotic!

Long story short, I found a new program for Paprika. It has a later start time, and there are only 8 kids in the class, including Paprika. 4 girls and 4 boys! The classroom is large and open. There is free access to a playground and sand box. I took her over there earlier today and it was like all of a sudden, I had a different child again.

I had my old Paprika back - the one who loved school, was outgoing, and made friends easily! Within 5 minutes, she had made three friends and was organizing everyone to build a city in the sandbox. She saw a little girl who was acting shy, and she made a point to go over and ask her if she wanted to play with the group!

It was like night and day. Ah-may-zing!

Mr. Mustard said, "That's well and good, but what happens when she goes to Kindergarten next year?"

Well, we have the option of doing afternoon kindergarten, which in our school district is much less desired by parents (due to child care issues)- so there are fewer kids and it's more relaxed. Plus, the late start time would help a lot.

Then at First Grade, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. That's two years away, and a lot can change in two years!

I am just so glad that I listened to my instincts and to the needs of my child and realized why something was not working for her, and took the steps to address it!

I also understand many of the issues going on with Paprika because they are issues I have faced myself. I mean, I was the person in law school who had to wear earplugs to study in the library because it was too loud for me to concentrate! (And if you've ever been to a Law Library, you know it's so quiet that you can hear people turning the pages of their books). So, compared to me, her issues are pretty mild! Haha!

I just want Paprika to know that whatever she needs, we are there to help her. It is so important that she feels safe, comfortable, and happy in her learning environment, and if we have to go to the ends of the Earth to meet her needs, we will! But thankfully, it looks like a simple change of setting is all it took to do the trick! Yay!!!!


waikikimum said...

Oh your story reminds me of my daughter so much. She is now ten and home schooled due to health reasons and that has brought it's own concerns. Yet she is so well adjusted, socializes well with other kids and has a much better education for HER. Great that you have learnt to read your child so early and done what you know is best. Good on you. Love your blog BTW.

Brenna said...

Well done E! What a relief to have found a pre-K solution that fits Paprika to a T. Two years will bring so many changes, I'll bet by first grade you won't have a thing to worry about!

Sheila said...

I'm so happy that you found such a wonderful opportunity for Paprika.
Hugs to you, as a Mom I can relate to the stresses of wanting to do what is best for your child, thinking you had, then having to come up with an entirely new plan. It should be a happy school year for you all. Networking is a terrrific tool for Mom's because Mom's tell it like it is.We are warriors for our families, ever vigilant in their care.

FourJedis said...

You are so in tune with your kids' needs, and there's no doubt that they know they can count on you and Mr. Mustard. It sounds like the new school is perfect for her. It's one thing to be upset a day here and a day there, but seeing as she was not herself, good move on your part!!